back to article Amazon staffers took bribes, manipulated marketplace, leaked data including search algorithms – DoJ claims

US prosecutors claim six people bribed corrupt Amazon insiders to rig the the web giant's Marketplace in their favor and leak terabytes of data including some search algorithms. Amazon’s digital bazaar is open to third parties who can push their products on the e-commerce giant’s store, and even have Amazon do their deliveries …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    Follow the cash

    Find the corruption

    —-> Going thru their pockets

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    But... only six?

    They couldn't have been looking very hard. In an organisation the size of Amazon, it is statistically impossible for there to be only six (sacrificial lambs) on the take.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: But... only six?

      The 6 were the bribers, not the bribed. Although I am interested to here what happened to them. They lost their jobs according to the article, unsurprisingly, but did they face any criminal charges?

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        At least 10

        "The DoJ claims at least ten Amazonians took the crooked coin".

        So at least 10

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Pay the people better and they may be not tempted by bribery.

    Something's rotten on Amazon Marketplace: I made a bad review on a sh*tty product on Amazon. 2 weeks later, I received several mails from the 3P shop asking me to remove my review in exchange of a few cash. I refused and contacted several times Amazon to ask them if bribery was a standard practice on Marketplace. I never got a relevant answer from Amazon.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      It's supposed to be an immediate dismissal from the Marketplace to offer bribes to remove Reviews (just like its supposed to be for fake reviews).

      I've had success reporting fake reviews, but I've never been offered cash for removing a review, so cant comment there. But probably, this is a case of if you got in contact with the right people things would have happened, but often (as with any big organisation) finding the right people is like pulling hens teeth!

      Oh well at least you tried. :)

      1. big_D Silver badge

        They often threaten to sue over here, if you don't give a 5* review of the 3P.

        I've never had any problems, but it is reported every now and then by heise.de that customers have been intimidated by suppliers trying to get non-5* reviews removed or upgraded to 5*.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've never had a seller try to bribe or threaten me if I didn't give a better review, but I've had a couple ask me politely to change it. I do - I decrease the star rating further, and add a comment about them asking me to change it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Pay the people better and they may be not tempted by bribery.

      I don't disagree that people should be paid a living wage, but it is a fallacy to believe that crime is linked to need, except for the most dire poverty and even then it is rare. I've known plenty of poor people who are completely honest, and more than a few quite wealthy people who aren't.

      1. spold

        I'm not sure of the ultimate derivation, but I heard it in a Clarence Clemons song sometime...

        "Money isn't the root of all evil, but if you have got too much, or got too little, it can bring out the worst in you".

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Hmm. Spend $100k and get back revenue of $10m

    And get a look inside their merchant ranking algorithm so I can look extra good.

    Who wouldn't take that deal?

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: Hmm. Spend $100k and get back revenue of $10m

      In the UK, a £12,000 donation to the Conservative Party "coincidentally" happened after a Conservative minister's decision saved a developer £45M, so that's an even better ratio.

      1. Blazde Silver badge

        Re: Hmm. Spend $100k and get back revenue of $10m

        I don't think that 45mil savings - or cost to Tower Hamlets as it might be better described - worked out. Many of Richard Desmond's other bribes have though. I wonder what his total ratio is by now. And is total ratio even the correct way to measure this given that financial success from bribery can be used to fund further bribery, implying that earlier success is more important than later success?

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    "became a consultant and then funneled more bribes to others inside Amazon"

    I thought all consultants did that.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      A downvote.

      Ooops.

      Looks like I've hurt some con-sultants feelings.

  6. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    Who'd have thought

    That the Internet could be used for such crooked manipulation. Let's just hope that the politicians don't find out.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    House cleaning

    While Amazon are looking for dusty corners that need cleaning up, perhaps they could remove all the pages of items that ' are no longer available and don't know whennor if they will ever be in stock'. Searching for items via google or duck duck go often comes up with said item on Amazon.de only to find it no longer available but suggestions for a range if crap that isn't even vaguely similar.

    Click bait that is wasting my time, it happens so often that I no longer bother with Amazon at all, aside from the fact prices on there are usually higher.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: House cleaning

      The highest form of search results pollution is when you're search for an item and most of the results are pinterest, as if to say "The answer you seek lies somewhere on the internet, we've seen it".

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: House cleaning

        -pinterest is your friend.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: House cleaning

          "-pinterest is your friend."

          But only if you want to continually have to sign so that you can click on images that take you to pages of total irrelevance.

        2. Valeyard

          Re: House cleaning

          yeah I do that, just annoying that i need to add such an exclude term so often

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: House cleaning

      at the end of your search string do things like (without quotes) "-amazon"

      besides adds, no more amazon results.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: House cleaning

        'Cept Google seems to ignore such exclusions when it wants to. The days when you could craft a search so it actually found what you waned anddidn't just try to flog you stuff based on a key word are long gone.

    3. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: House cleaning

      I find the old amazon listings useful (along with the reviews). It means the thing you seek exists and can often provide clues to help you find whatever lowly store is still selling it but hasn't given Google enough money to tell you so.

      There was a time Amazon items didn't appear in Google results. I assume Big G is getting a lovely revenue stream from Amazon now and everyone is cosy again.

  8. TimMaher Silver badge
    Pint

    New York, New York;

    I see what you did there.

    1. David Nash

      Re: New York, New York;

      What did they do, apart from quote the <city>,<State> as for all the others?

  9. LDS Silver badge

    Too much power in too few hands...

    A good example why those ginormous companies with their tentacles everywhere are simply too dangerous. Too few have too much power. Antitrust should not only look at the consumer prices, but at the market distorting power too. To create consumer, you need first people who earn enough money to be one. In a distorted market, customers will disappear.

  10. c1ue

    The only question I have is who cracked? It seems pretty clear that a member of the gang gave up the rest of them.

  11. T. F. M. Reader

    "conspired to use a communication facility"

    Is it the "wire fraud" equivalent to "Send me an email, will you?" - ?

  12. Roopee
    FAIL

    Whatsapp

    I bet they wished they’d used Signal instead of <Facebook>!

    As an aside, Amazon’s search is so bad I’m quite surprised to hear that it has an algorithm!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatsapp

      It's not sorted by "highest commission for Amazon first"?

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