Six Indicted for Bribing Amazon Workers in $100m Scheme
Six individuals have been indicted on conspiracy charges after they allegedly bribed Amazon workers to gain an unfair competitive advantage on Amazon Marketplace estimated to be worth $100m.
The alleged co-conspirators are Ephraim Rosenberg, 45, of Brooklyn, New York; Joseph Nilson, 31, and Kristen Leccese, 32, of New York; Hadis Nuhanovic, 30, of Acworth, Georgia; Rohit Kadimisetty, 27, of Northridge, California; and Nishad Kunju, 31, of Hyderabad, India.
They’ve been charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Acting as consultants to third-party sellers on the marketplace, they are accused of bribing Amazon staff and contractors to the tune of over $100,000.
In return, the employees reinstated products and merchant accounts blocked by Amazon — including items flagged for violating IP laws, products removed after customer complaints and accounts suspended after manipulating product reviews.
The insiders are also alleged to have suspended competitor accounts, shared intelligence on these businesses and provided info on Amazon algorithms which allowed the six to flood competitor items with negative reviews.
The bribed employees are also said to have provided access to “Amazon’s highly confidential standard operating procedures and algorithms,” and circumvented internal controls to increase storage limits in warehouses, allow sales of restricted products and provide inside info on the most successful ad campaigns and profitable product listings.
As well as providing consultancy services to third-party sellers, Nilson, Leccese and Nuhanovic are also said to have operated and sold through their own accounts on Amazon Marketplace. Kunju was initially bribed as a seller-support worker before becoming an external consultant who recruited and bribed former colleagues, it is alleged.
“As the world moves increasingly to online commerce, we must ensure that the marketplace is not corrupted with unfair advantages obtained by bribes and kick‑backs,” said US attorney Brian Moran. “The ultimate victim from this criminal conduct is the buying public who get inferior or even dangerous goods that should have been removed from the marketplace. I commend the investigators and cybersecurity experts who have worked to identify and indict those engaged in these illegal scheme.”