- The indictment alleges that they served as consultants to so-called third-party (3P) sellers on the Amazon Marketplace.
Examples of the defaced product listings. The product includes household items, appliances, and dietary supplements, the prosecution said. It directly affected competitors and consumers, according to the US Department of Justice.
Among the "illicit steps" described in the indictment, corrupted employees and contractors helped reinstate products and merchant accounts that Amazon had suspended or blocked entirely from doing business on the marketplace. Bribed workers also circumvented Amazon rules when they "increased [third-party] sellers' storage limits in Amazon's warehouses, facilitated [third-party] sellers' otherwise meritless requests to sell products in restricted categories, and provided [third-party] sellers with inside knowledge about the most successful advertising campaigns and most profitable product listings", the DOJ said.
In return Money, Amazon Indigenous provided defendants with access to proprietary Amazon data - in some cases - reliable access to the company's systems, lawyers insisted.
In a statement, Amazon said that the company supported the investigation and had worked with federal agencies involved in the case.
"We work hard to build a great experience for our customers and sellers, and bad actors like those in this case detract from the flourishing community of honest entrepreneurs that make up the vast majority of our sellers", the company said. Three of the population are from NY, one from Georgia, one from California and one from India. Another New York City man, Ephraim Rosenberg, led a similar operation called Amazon Sellers Group TG. They allegedly acted as consultants to other sellers, and some also made their own sales.
Amazon's sprawling marketplace, which hosts millions of third-party sellers, now accounts for approximately 60% of the company's e-commerce sales. Mr. Kadimisetty now lives in Northridge, Calif., according to the US attorney's office.
Bribes were paid to at least 10 people, including Amazon contractor Nishad Kunju of Hyderabad in India, prosecutors said.
Amazon's ongoing struggles with third-party sellers and its Marketplace were under the spotlight this summer, as lawmakers questioned CEO Jeff Bezos during an antitrust hearing before the House Judiciary Committee about counterfeit concerns, and alleged anti-competitive behavior from the retailer itself: Amazon has been accused of copying Marketplace products to create its own competing products, a claim the company has denied. The Wall Street Journal reported the news on Friday. The revelations sparked a congressional investigation that contributed to rising federal scrutiny of tech giants this year.
The U.S. Attorney's Office explained that wire fraud and wire-fraud conspiracy charges against the group are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines.
The 6 defendants are charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud. They will appear in court in Seattle on October 15th.
Allison Prang contributed to this article.