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Six people indicted in Amazon Marketplace bribery scheme to help third-party sellers

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Six people have been indicted by a grand jury in Washington state on charges they bribed Amazon employees to manipulate third-party seller listings on the e-commerce site, including listings for defective or dangerous products, authorities said.

Starting in 2017, the people, including two former Amazon employees, paid more than $100,000 to have listings of products and accounts that Amazon had blocked or suspended from its Marketplace, which allows third-party sellers to promote and sell their products, the Department of Justice said. The former employees also provided internal Amazon information that allowed attacks on other third-party sellers and their accounts, including flooding the sellers’ product listings with fake negative reviews, authorities said.

The defendants accessed contact information for Amazon employees and customers, which they shared widely, according to authorities. Three of the people were based in New York, one in Georgia, one in California, and one was in India,

“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,” Raymond Duda, FBI Seattle Special agent in charge, said in a statement.

The reinstated product listings included dietary supplements which had been removed for safety complaints, household electronics that had been flagged as flammable, products that had been removed for intellectual property violations, as well as other items. Some of the reinstated accounts had been suspended for posting deceptive product reviews, while others had been removed for making “improper contact with consumers,” as well as other violations of Amazon’s policies.

“Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

Amazon’s ongoing struggles with third-party sellers and its Marketplace were under the spotlight this summer, as lawmakers questioned CEO Jeff Bezos during an antitrust hearing before the House Judiciary Committee about counterfeit concerns, and alleged anti-competitive behavior from the retailer itself: Amazon has been accused of copying Marketplace products to create its own competing products, a claim the company has denied.

Analysts have estimated third-party sellers account for about half of sales on the site. Third-party sellers appear in normal Amazon listings, with a line of text to indicate that Amazon itself isn’t the actual seller.

The six defendants in Washington state face charges of wire fraud, bribery, and gaining unauthorized access to protected computer systems. The wire fraud charges carry a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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