A man who prosecutors painted as a “critical cog” in an alleged bribery scheme involving Amazon consultants accused of working to help their clients get an edge over other third-party sellers was sentenced to federal prison today.
Five other defendants were indicted in the scheme in September of 2020. Four of them are scheduled to go on trial in October 2022.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, the US District Judge said the defendant’s behavior “could be called modern day organized crime.”
US Attorney Nick Brown said in a press release announcing the sentencing on Friday: “Mr. Kadimisetty used his knowledge and contacts from prior employment at Amazon, to enrich himself by manipulating listings on Amazon Marketplace. He was a critical cog in the bribery wheel: paying contacts in India to reinstate suspended accounts, steal confidential information and attack competitors who got in the way of those funding the bribery scheme.”
It appears from the government release that Amazon fired a number of employees in India whom it charged were helping the defendant:
“The illicit services provided by Kadimisetty and the other defendants included: stealing confidential business information about Amazon algorithms; reinstating accounts and products that had been suspended; circumventing inventory fees for Amazon warehouses; falsifying claims for lost inventory; and facilitating attacks on competing sellers and product listings.
“In his plea agreement, Kadimisetty admits being responsible for $100,000 in bribes paid to Amazon insiders during his active involvement in the enterprise. Kadimisetty left the conspiracy in late-2018, after a number of his contacts in India were fired by Amazon due to the misconduct.”
The stakes are high for Amazon sellers, and some become desperate if they’re unable to get help directly from the company. EcommerceBytes reported on the indictment in 2020, which alleged in one incident, a client paid defendants $200,000 in exchange for a successful account reinstatement.
The indictment referred to “corrupted employees and contractors” when it said: “In exchange for bribes, they increased 3P sellers’ storage limits in Amazon’s warehouses, facilitated 3P sellers’ otherwise meritless requests to sell products in restricted categories, and provided 3P sellers with inside knowledge about the most successful advertising campaigns and most profitable product listings.”
Note that an indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Update 2/13/2022: Sellers are also discussing it on the Amazon discussion boards.