Related reading: See our article on the original indictment including updated (2022) comments from one of the defendants.
After pleading guilty last year, one of six Amazon “consultants” was finally sentenced to prison, confirming the black hat tactics used by some third-party sellers on the platform.
Using Amazon Employees to Steal Confidential Information
Twenty-eight-year-old former Amazon employee Rohit Kadimisetty from Northridge, California, was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment (down from the recommended 5 years) for fraud and bribery. He was also meted out a $50,000 fine.
Kadimisetty, who is originally from India, admitted to accepting bribes from Amazon third-party sellers in exchange for favors, including
- Reinstatement of suspended accounts and listings
- Falsifying claims for lost inventory
- Sabotaging other third-party seller accounts
- Getting approval into restricted product categories
Records show that he’s been involved in these illegal activities as early as 2017. After he relocated to the United States, Kadimisetty recruited employees from India to access confidential seller information and use tools that would help their “clients.” He acted as a middleman and hid his identity by using deceptive emails and encrypted messaging services.
Kadimisetty admits to receiving $100,000 in bribes. We’ve reported about this in an earlier article, detailing how they committed the crimes charged.
The DOJ alleged that these briberies continued until 2020, but Kadimisetty says that he already left the conspiracy in late 2018 because his contacts in India were fired due to misconduct.
The activities were eventually discovered and he was indicted, along with 5 others, in September 2020. In the same month a year later, he pleaded guilty.
Not the Only Black-Hat Tactic
Sellers who have been with Amazon long enough already know that there are third-party sellers out there who are not above doing illegal activities just to gain an advantage over their competitors.
Recently, more Amazon sellers pleaded to a price-fixing conspiracy, and brushing scams continue to be an issue in the marketplace. Amazon itself was forced to shut down its “Sold by Amazon” program, after the feature was exposed as an illegal price-fixing scheme.
It’s often hard to go after erring sellers legally, especially when they are not based in the United States. So sellers who play by the rules need to always be on the lookout for competitor sabotage.