A former Amazon employee has been sentenced to ten months in prison for his role in a global bribery plot to steal sensitive information and influence the e-commerce giant’s Marketplace platform.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement that Rohit Kadimisetty of Northridge, California, admitted conspiracy in September 2021.
He is one of six consultants indicted in September 2020 in connection with a fraud and bribery scam involving the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth and its online Marketplace.
Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform owned and run by Amazon that allows third-party sellers to sell new or used products alongside Amazon’s normal offers on a fixed-price online marketplace.
Kadimisetty was sentenced to ten months in jail by US Attorney Nick Brown on Friday and was also fined $50,000.
He admitted stealing confidential information and manipulatingthe Amazon Marketplace.
The court heard how he used his past role as an Amazon employee and took part in underhanded practices, including commercial bribes.
At the sentencing hearing, US District Judge Richard A Jones said: “You do not have a license to steal from Amazon… you were involved in illegal conduct… This could be called modern-day organized crime.”
Attorney Brown claimed Kadimisetty enriched himself by manipulating listings on Amazon Marketplace using his expertise and relationships from his previous work at Jeff Bezos’ company.
He said: “He was a critical cog in the bribery wheel: paying contacts in India to reinstate suspended accounts, steal confidential information and attack competitors who got in the way of those funding the bribery scheme.
According to court documents, the defendants have been using bribes and fraud to elevate and enrich specific Amazon Marketplace sellers since at least 2017.
Kadimisetty and the other defendants served as so-called consultants to third-party (“3P”) sellers on the Amazon Marketplace.
Those sellers sold a wide range of goods, including household goods, consumer electronics, and dietary supplements on Amazon’s multi-billion-dollar electronic commerce platform.
Kadimisetty utilized his inside knowledge to recruit employees in India to misuse their employee credentials and access to internal information, systems, and tools after leaving Amazon and relocating to the United States.
Kadimisetty associated with employees in India with other consultants and 3P sellers across the US, adding that he acted as a middleman.
He also did tasks on behalf of 3P sellers which included negotiating and arranging bribe payments on behalf of tainted Amazon insiders.
To hide his criminal conduct, Kadimisetty used deceptive email accounts, encrypted messaging services, and bribes through third parties, the DoJ said,
Kadimisetty and the other defendants provided illegal services such as stealing confidential business information about Amazon algorithms, reactivating suspended accounts and products, avoiding inventory fees for Amazon warehouses, falsifying claims for lost inventory, and facilitating attacks on competing sellers and product listings.
In his plea agreement, Kadimisetty admitted being responsible for $100,000 in bribes paid to Amazon insiders during his active involvement in the enterprise, it said.
Kadimisetty left the company in late-2018 after a number of his contacts in India were fired by Amazon due to the misconduct, the DoJ said.
Special Agent in Charge Donald Voiret, of FBI Seattle. “Kadimisetty used his insider access and expertise for his own benefit and those of his co-conspirators. Not only did his actions break the law, but ultimately consumer confidence was shaken by calling into question fair play. Fortunately, the actions of law enforcement were able to stop this scheme.”
In October 2022, Ephraim Rosenberg of Brooklyn, Joseph Nilsen and Kristen Leccese of New York City, and Hadis Nuhanovic of Georgia will stand trial.
On the indictment, defendant Nishad Kunju of Hyderabad has yet to be arraigned.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.