Influential consultant for Amazon The sellers admitted on Monday to bribing employees of the e-commerce giant for information to help its customers boost sales and reinstate suspended accounts.
Ephraim “Ed” Rosenberg wrote in a LinkedIn post that he will plead guilty in federal court to criminal charges stemming from a 2020 indictment that charged six people with conspiring to give sellers an unfair competitive advantage on Amazon’s third-party marketplace. Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty, including one former Amazon employee who was sentenced to 10 months in prison last year.
Rosenberg, who lives in Brooklyn, is a well-known figure in Amazon’s third-party seller world. He runs a consulting business that advises entrepreneurs on how to market products online and resolve unforeseen issues with their Amazon accounts. Rosenberg’s Facebook group for salespeople, ASGTG, has more than 68,000 members, and he hosts a popular conference for salespeople every year.
“Some time, several years ago, I began to obtain and use Amazon’s internal annotations — Amazon’s private property — to learn about the reasons for sellers’ suspensions in order to help them recover if possible,” wrote Rosenberg, who is scheduled to appear in district court. in U.S. District Court in Seattle on March 30 for a change of plea hearing, according to court records. “In some cases, I have paid bribes, directly and indirectly, to Amazon employees to obtain annotations and reinstate suspended accounts. These actions were illegal.”
In LinkedIn posts to CNBC as recently as last month, Rosenberg denied prosecutors’ allegations, calling the case a “conspiracy” and claiming he was framed. On Monday, Rosenberg said he “regrets” his involvement in the bribery scheme.
“During the course of this case, I made some public statements about this prosecution and indictment,” Rosenberg said. “These statements are inaccurate and I retract these statements. This statement I am making now is accurate and true and I will continue to stand by it.”
Since at least 2017, prosecutors have alleged that Rosenberg and other consultants allegedly bribed Amazon employees to leak information about the company’s search and ranking algorithms and to share confidential data about their market competition. In total, the individuals allegedly paid $100,000 in bribes to employees and received more than $100 million in competitive benefits, the Justice Department said.
In 2018, Amazon fired four employees in India who were allegedly involved in a bribery scheme.
Previously unsealed court documents said Rosenberg allegedly sent a “veiled threat” to an Amazon employee at the company’s headquarters in Seattle as part of a bribery scheme, Bloomberg reported. The documents also detail the defendants’ efforts to evade detection by authorities, including allegedly stuffing a llama-shaped ottoman with cash that was believed to be a bribe, Bloomberg reported.
Rosenberg is part of what has become a significant industry helping sellers navigate the complexity and chaos of Amazon’s marketplace, where some 2 million sellers are responsible for more than half of the products sold on the site. Amazon launched its online marketplace in 2000, allowing everyone from well-known brands to brick-and-mortar stores to sell products.
While the marketplace has helped Amazon generate tens of billions of dollars in sales, it has also become a notorious destination for counterfeit, unsafe and expired goods. Behind the scenes, scammers have resorted to illegal tactics for years to suppress competitors, artificially inflate their listings, or circumvent Amazon’s marketplace rules.
Amazon has said it invests hundreds of millions of dollars a year to make sure products are safe and compliant. Providing internal data to sellers by employees violates Amazon’s Seller Policy and Code of Conduct.
Rosenberg said attempts to bribe Amazon employees were “wrong and criminal.”
“No one should pay Amazon employees a bribe to provide private information to Amazon,” Rosenberg wrote Monday. “If it’s clear that internal information has been illegally leaked, no one should use it. Nor should anyone pay Amazon employees for any other special services related to the seller’s account.”
Rosenberg and his attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
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