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Six ‘Amazon Lawyers’ charged with bribery for Amazon account restricted recovery services

By Chris Dawson September 21, 2020 - 1:12 pm

If you’re entire life depends on your Amazon business and for some reason you end up with your Amazon account restricted or suspended it can seem like the end of your life. You’ll be faced with begging for your life back, constructing Action Plans explaining how you erred, what you’ve done to put it right and how you’ll ensure you never fall foul of the same infractions again.

Many would pay a sizeable sum to get their businesses back on track and a whole industry of ‘Amazon Lawyers’ has sprung up – a cottage industry of people promising they know the secret sauce that will get your account resurrected. Many, to be frank, do nothing that you couldn’t do yourself – Amazon has a raft of instructions on how to construct an Action Plan but these help businesses have done it multiple times over and so may be of assistance.

The issue often is that those running marketplace businesses aren’t always great at letter and report writing which is what an Action Plan requires. If you have an Amazon account restricted or suspended, you’ll also be feeling fear and hurt and neither of those is a good recipe for a dispassionate construct response, accepting full responsibility and explaining how it won’t happen again. That’s why having a third party assist isn’t always a terrible idea.

Now however, it appears that some ‘Amazon Lawyer’ type businesses might have gone too far, even so far as bribing Amazon employees for favours in order to get accounts restored and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington has brought charges against six individuals in connection with multi-million dollar scheme to bribe Amazon employees and contractors.

This isn’t just bunging someone a drink for a favour, the six people have been indicted by a Grand Jury for conspiring to pay over $100,000 in commercial bribes to to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors and in the process impacting millions of dollars worth of sales on the Amazon marketplaces. One of those receiving bribes is alleged to have left Amazon and set up his own ‘Amazon lawyer’ type support business and then paid bribes to his former colleagues!

And it wasn’t limited to account reinstatement, the corrupted employees and contractors allegedly facilitated attacks against other merchant’s accounts and product listings, by sharing competitive intelligence, using their inside access to Amazon’s network to suspend competitors’ accounts; and aiding consultants to flood competitors’ product listings with fictitious negative product reviews.

The defendants will make their initial appearances in the U.S. District Court in Seattle on the 15th of October 2020.

“As the world moves increasingly to online commerce, we must ensure that the marketplace is not corrupted with unfair advantages obtained by bribes and kick‑backs. The ultimate victim from this criminal conduct is the buying public who get inferior or even dangerous goods that should have been removed from the marketplace. I commend the investigators and cybersecurity experts who have worked to identify and indict those engaged in these illegal schemes.”
– Brian T. Moran, U.S. Attorney

“Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery and fraud in order to gain the upper hand. What’s equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors. This indictment should send a message that the FBI will not sit on the sidelines while criminals try to cheat their way to the top.”
– Raymond Duda, Special agent in charge, FBI Seattle

“Amazon is grateful to have worked with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs in their thorough pursuit of this 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.
 
Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behaviour by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity. We are especially disappointed by the actions of this limited group of now former employees, and appreciate the collaboration and support from law enforcement to bring them and the bad actors they were entwined with to justice.
 
There is no place for fraud at Amazon and we will continue to pursue all measures to protect our store and hold bad actors accountable.”

– Amazon

  • Matt G
    1 month ago

    Well worth reading in full

    https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwa/press-release/file/1317986/download

    Plenty of chat about this on Reddit and other blogs, inc:

    https://www.ecomcrew.com/amazon-seller-lawyers-indicted/

  • Frank
    1 month ago

    All this mess would not be necessary, if those mostly automatic (robotic) account closures would be checked by reasonable people before going live. However there obviously is no way to assume any reasoning behind these (catastrophic) actions, and trying to resolve those cases will in the best case lead to a supporter (from a country far, far away) who does not speak your language and is paid for every case solved – clicking “x” is the quickest way to earn the most money. Case solved, who cares about a company doing millions of EUR/USD/GBP per month on Amazon. Amazon does not seem to care.

    • Chris Davis
      1 month ago

      Since July of this year, within the EU, there is a possibility, under new legislation, of seeking independent mediation on an Amazon decision to close an account. Unfortunately, it’s only mediation and you stand a chance of losing your part fee payment if the mediator finds against you. The main drawback of this relatively toothless legislation is that Amazon does not have to accept the mediator’s decision. However, you would get your fee contribution back.

  • Ifellow
    1 month ago

    Clearly a sign amazon has a monopolistic position if sellers are going through such lengths.

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