Six people, including Amazon employees and a lawyer and community organizer, were arrested Wednesday on charges of conspiring to bribe Amazon workers in New York City to promote third-party vendors on Amazon.com.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said the scheme stretched back as far as 2003 and further still, when prosecutors believe the head of a major third-party seller group in New York admitted to bribing an Amazon employee for the opportunity to promote “limited or zero inventory” third-party sellers on Amazon.com.
The defendants were arrested in Brooklyn and New Jersey, with additional arrests expected. All are charged with enterprise corruption; conspiracy to commit bribery; and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Berman said the defendants engaged in a “broad scheme to bribe and co-opt individual Amazon employees in exchange for access to the internal system that Amazon uses to manage its merchants,” prosecutors said.
“This case shows the full breadth of criminal behavior that the departments’ special investigation units are investigating, and we will not hesitate to criminally prosecute anyone who, whether by design or as a result of negligence, uses their positions of trust to defraud the public.”
Investigators said the scheme involved the use of a cashier at Amazon’s Brooklyn data center to facilitate bribes to Amazon managers and other employees of vendor management groups. The group also used their ties in the community to get favorable treatment from Amazon, including being allowed to use third-party managers to facilitate the bribing.
The six arrested, who include two former Amazon employees and a lawyer who worked for a firm that advises third-party vendors on Amazon’s products, were charged in a 32-count indictment. A seventh person has been criminally charged and remains at large.