According to a new report, Amazon has launched an investigation in its organization in order to catch employees who are suspected of leaking confidential data to sellers along with providing them with additional services for bribes. Based on a report from Wall Street Journal, Amazon employees are helping independent merchants by providing them with sales data, deleting bad reviews, recovering banned accounts and more in order to give them an edge over other sellers.
The problem seems to be more prominent in China, where the employees are said to overlook company policy for $80 to $2,000. The whole scam is also said to be orchestrated by brokers who are said to act as middlemen between the merchants and the employees. The brokers are said to scout for such Amazon employees on the popular messaging service known as WeChat.
In order to bring their product on top of search results, there are a number of tricks sellers have deployed against Amazon’s automated system. This involves paying someone to repeatedly click on a product listing to improves its rating or to create fake reviews, something Amazon has been fighting against since 2015. Added to that, bribed mid-level Amazon employees have not only been removing bad reviews for certain products but are also providing merchants with the email IDs of the customers who have written them, in order for the merchants to contact them and pursue them to remove the review by giving them discounts.
Amazon, realizing the problem, has started an internal probe in May. The news was also confirmed by an Amazon spokesperson, who was quoted in the report stating, “We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties.” For the sellers, she also said, “We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them.”
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Currently the tech giant has more than two million merchants selling on its platform with an estimated 550 million products, representing more than half of all units sold on the site. Added to that, the report also states that the competition in China at the moment is so fierce that merchants see no other solution other than using illegal or unethical tactics to sustain their businesses.