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Six indicted in multimillion dollar scheme to bribe Amazon staff (justice.gov)
257 points by ikeboy 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 152 comments



Yikes. Corruption in an organization at Amazon-scale, economically, is a totally different beast. More like corruption in a governmental organisation than a private one.

"$100 million of competitive benefits to those accounts, harm to competitors, and harm to consumers."

At this point, there are "officials," with rubber stamps that are worth millions to a large number of businesses. Google, and facebook too. The difference between doing well or poorly on the ad marketplace, adwords, feeds, results, and such can be the difference between a business worth a fortune and one worth nothing.

It's similar in scale, incentive complexes and such to whatever public body approves real estate development plans. Friendly decision makers are worth a fortune. No details on who the culprits were, but it sounds like corruption near the ground level.... $100m. Different beast.

At this point, expect less criminally blatant forms of corruption to emerge. Hiring former facebook & adwords people as "consultants with contacts" is already a meaningful sized thing. Sound familiar?



>Yikes. Corruption in an organization at Amazon-scale, economically, is a totally different beast. More like corruption in a governmental organisation than a private one.

I do hate it when that happens too.


Try not to create monopoly this large and wait for market to sort this out. There should be like 7 amazons, 7 Facebook and such.


I don't know, if I'm running a business at 1/7th the size of Facebook I will still be trying to grow it as much as possible and triumph over my competitors, even if that means I end up running a monopoly. Probably a failing of my personality there.


There are like 15 stock exchanges in the US alone. For a long time there was a single network monopoly: NYSE.

The reason there are now 15 exchanges and not 1 is because the SEC structures the market to incentivize "on the merits" competition and discourage "destroy mode" competition.

In sports we don't tolerate players intentionally injuring the other side, so I'm not sure why we tolerate it in business.


This is both the example and counterexample of regulatory trustbusting.

You decrease monopoly problems in one sense, but now the "SEC" and it's quasi-subsidiary entities (NASDAQ, NYSE) have become their own sort of trust. You can even include LSX and other major worldwide markets. International trade deals have brought regulatory regimes close to each other in order to maintain liquidity between markets.

If you did this to the car industry, it would probably make cars worse. It's not obvious what a "worse car" means in the context of a stock exchange or ad marketplace, and dubious that "worse" means worse for us, so a regulator is not out of the question.

That said, I'd rather have fewer or no multi-trillion dollar trusts than a regulated trust.

Anyway, a social media regulator is problematic for other reasons.

IMO the EU & US should just find some courage and act on the findings of their own courts. The marketplaces in particular have already been found (in court) to be operating monopolistically. Split them off. Make adwords separate from Google. Amazon marketplace is trickier, because it is a "real stuff" business... but the same logic applies.


One aspect of the car industry that's regulated is headlights. https://www.carid.com/articles/brief-history-of-sealed-beam-... talks about the history of headlights allowed on autos in the US. There was a period when cars were required to have headlights that were interchangeable across all makes and models. You simply bought a round headlight.

Things have loosened up quite a bit but the US is behind other countries in allowing advanced lighting technology on cars: https://www.autoblog.com/2018/03/13/why-we-cant-have-better-... "This is because it doesn't adhere to the inflexible and archaic 50-year-old Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that require all vehicles to have headlights capable of only switching from high to low beams and not blend the two together, which also rules out MB's Digital Light tech."


Why is social media problematic?

Banks are networked and all speak SWIFT.

Stock exchanges are networked and all speak FIX.

Tier-1 ISPs are networked and all speak IP.

Why can't we make that happen for information infrastructure of a certain size and importance?


What's probably most problematic is that some sort of federated/interoperable/regulated set of social media sites probably means that one governmental or quasi-governmental entity still needs to make calls about the thing that's actually the real flash point on Facebook. Namely, what sort of posts should be allowed and disallowed.


Why?

The question of America's apparent desire for official censorship is orthogonal to the question of monopoly. And even if it wasn't, people would be a lot more likely to get their preferred brand of censorship from whichever 1/7th Facebook they chose to use.


You can experience for yourself exactly what a "worse car" is today: buy an American car from the late 70s to the mid eighties. The big 3 still hadn't accepted that foreign competitors were a serious threat, and were churning out absolute garbage. Granted, there were other structural problems, but a big factor in the poor quality was the manufacturers feeling comfortable in their position and not feeling threatened.


I like the approach Cory Doctorow has been advocating. Make it not illegal to scrape facebook/google/etc. Facebook got its start by being interoperable with Myspace. Now they wont let anyone do the same to them.


They also had an “import all your friends from Gmail” feature since Google had data portability principles. But of course there’s no porting back out of Facebook.


Facebook does have a data export feature, although I don't remember whether it existed before GDPR.


Even playing by the rules and not sabotaging/destroying the competition can be harmful to consumers.

Mergers and Acquisitions have been responsible for the loss of countless services & products. Services & Products that were even profitable, and had a loyal and growing customer base, and a long road ahead of them.


There's a difference between intentionally injuring opponents and running up the score. A monopoly is someone running up the score. A company hiring someone to take out a competitor's employee is intentionally injuring the opponent.


The FAANG took a lesson from DOJ vs Microsoft, they no longer compete, they just bought all their competitors.


A part of the reason for the existence of these monopolies is that 1/7th of a facebook (in terms of usage) is worth much less than 1/7th of a facebook in terms of revenue and even less in terms of profit and market cap.

Breadth is very valuable to and ad business. Targeting makes it moreso.


Nothing wrong with the dismantling the ad industry for the good of society.


How will people know what to buy?


1/7 of Facebook would cover the US or EU and would be very valuable.


That's not really 1/7 of facebook, but rather 100% of facebook in the US or Europe. 1/7 of facebook is 1/7 of facebook in the US and/or 1/7 of facebook in Europe.

If you had 100% of facebook's business in Des Moines, IA, you would be raking in the cash. Good luck getting it.


Sure, those are the most valuable pieces. But all together: 7X(1/7) < 1.

This is the split (most valuable markets kept whole) that would be least detrimental to value, but also least beneficial in monopoly busting terms.


I'd argue that 7X(1/7) > 1. Many (most?) users will be participating in more than one of these concurrently.


Is everyone supposed to join all seven of those Facebooks?


Yes, perhaps it should be a law.


Network effects says no.


> In total, after their fraudulent reinstatement, the products and merchants earned in excess of $100 million in sales revenue.

Woah. Was not expecting it to be that big.

> More specifically, the Indictment alleges that the defendants served as consultants to so-called third-party (“3P”) sellers on the Amazon Marketplace.

Most companies have their employees sign onboarding documents or do an annual "business conduct" policy review. Any thoughts on a better way to manage something like this at scale? On one hand, I have a bad taste in my mouth from past employment situations that dictate "we own every though that enters your mind 24/7" - but consulting regarding your current employer, yikes.

I guess ethics aren't boolean to some.


There's some space been the extremes. You're normally not allowed to say anything that would be a company secret, but nothing should stop you from consulting on Amazon Marketplace as long as you use only public information you know very well. If you're already past ignoring company secrets, is unlikely preventing other employment would stop you already.

As for actual fixes, I think safety critical systems already have some answers: require 2 person confirmations, audit access, correlate repeated issues.


Mandatory vacations of certain length without system access is another common one.


This is a good one. If you’ve been tending to something rotten this gives others a chance to smell it.


I used to think you couldn’t possibly get any of those ethics courses wrong, until I saw someone close to me struggle through one.

It’s just not as obvious to some people I suppose.


> consulting regarding your current employer

The 6 defendants weren't Amazon employees.


One is a former Amazon worker, who was involved in the activity while employed:

> In the course of the conspiracy described in the Indictment, the defendants paid bribes to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors, including KUNJU, who accepted bribes as a seller-support associate in Hyderabad, India, before becoming an outside consultant who recruited and paid bribes to his former colleagues. In exchange for those bribes, the corrupted employees and contractors took the following illicit steps [...]


Business conduct doesn’t work in countries like India which is rife with corruption. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index


$100M in sales is only like $5M in profits at Amazon merchant profit levels.


Don't outsource critical business logic (like whether an 8-9 figure account should be suspended) to Indian low level contractors?

This has long been a major issue with Amazon - often the people making the decisions as to whether a business with dozens of employees gets to keep selling or goes bankrupt are being paid less than US minimum wage in another country.


5 out of 6 people here were not based in India or another cheap labour country, so we've already for a counterexample.


Most of those people weren't Amazon employees. The two employees indicted were India based (read the actual indictment, one of them moved to the US later).


That’s still 4 out of 6.


What exactly is your point?


You can't see that?


No, it's unclear why the location of people that never worked for Amazon is relevant in this context.


Were the Amazon employees who accepted the bribes from India? I don't see that mentioned anywhere on the link. It seems the third party contractors were hired by the Amazon sellers to bribe on their behalf.

Edit: On reading the full indictment, there is no mention of the national origin of any employees of Amazon. The 6 accused knew each other and were exchanging insider information from undisclosed Amazon employees with third party sellers in return for a fee. A couple of them were ex-Amazon employees who presumably used their insider knowledge to build confidence with the third party sellers, but I don't think they are being charged for using that knowledge.

Not sure how this would be prevented if Amazon did not have operations in India?


Nishad Kunju of Hyderabad, India is the only defendant named as a former Amazon employee. The others bribed him, then he left the company and bribed his former colleagues.


Oh gosh I'm blind, I missed that line completely from the summary page.

But does that mean all the bribes were given to employees in India? I wonder why they are not being charged? Perhaps because that part of the fraud happened within the Indian jurisdiction? Or are maybe they are waiting on Indian law enforcement to formally charge them.


This is the kind of non-racist, non-stereotyping, and non-xenophobic advice that will make Amazon great again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Amazon


I’m of Indian heritage. This isn’t about the reviewers being Indian per se.

It’s about a compliance function being placed in a country with poor law enforcement, low pay relative to the activity they’re monitoring and geographic/cultural separation from HQ. If you read about a bank whose traders are in New York and whose risk and compliance are in Tokyo, what would you think? And Tokyo has decent cops and high pay.

This is, fundamentally, about Amazon treating this function as a cost centre versus brand defence.


> Tokyo has decent cops and high pay.

No issue with your general point, but Tokyo having decent pay is generally not true and cops being decent is debatable.


It's hard to gauge intent, but I interpreted that message as "don't try to trim costs by outsourcing critical decisions to extremely low paid workers; especially in another country".

I mean, should we try to use euphemisms for China's control of chipmaking? Or the German emission cheating scandal?

Simply referencing a country or race doesn't make you racist. Interpreting it though...


> I mean, should we try to use euphemisms for China's control of chipmaking? Or the German emission cheating scandal?

When that extends to Chinese people or Germans that is racist.


> to Indian low level contractors

So this style of casual racism / xenophobia is ok if directed at approved targets?

Pretty sure if it happened to be 6 African American individuals who were indicted it would not be acceptable to say "Don't outsource your work to low-level Black contractors".


Consider that the US DOJ has no authority to investigate, arrest or prosecute in India, India being a sovereign independent state.

Also,

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

>Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.


What a good rule to live ones life by!


Many examples can be hiddenly loaded, not well-constructed rule


> Pretty sure if it happened to be 6 African American individuals who were indicted it would not be acceptable to say "Don't outsource your work to low-level Black contractors".

Notice the word in italics? The US would still have jurisdiction.

GovCloud is also not allowed to be administered by Indians but is allowed to be run by Indian Americans. It can’t be run by people from Great Britain either.


The difference is that people from other countries are generally not subject to US jurisdiction. Certainly the deterrence effect from stories like this is far larger for US based employees and contractors than foreign ones.

It's not xenophobic to prefer US employees for sensitive positions of trust, where the rule of US law is relevant.


So it'd be okay to say it for contractors in Africa, who are black and who are also not under US jurisdiction?


Yes, generally putting critical access in the hands of foreign contractors, especially in third world or developing countries is a terrible idea. It has nothing to do with race. If you outsource to white Russian contractors in Russia you could be just as fucked.


Except the fact that Amazon's office in Hyderabad India is the their largest in the world [1]. We are not talking about contractors - they are employees like any in their Seattle one, many actually do relocate back from US to India office.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/business/amazon-hyderabad...


I think the implication is that someone poorly paid and lightly supervised is more susceptible to bribery. Whether they are a contractor or full employee, or the color of their skin, is irrelevant. I personally doubt pay makes a difference, either you have integrity or you do not.

All in all, this is very embarrassing for Amazon.


Correct, and if a US political party outsources their IT management to white folks overseas in eastern Europe (outside of EU) / Russia or former Russian states where US law does not apply they'd be equally idiotic.


If a company was outsourcing critical business logic to, say, Nigeria, I would absolutely criticize them for that. The color would have nothing to do with it.


Yeah I think that would be fine, ignoring the fact that Africa isn't a country and India is. American isn't a race, and neither is Indian.


The point was that the two Amazon employees were citizens of India and took the bribes in India, so they were outside US jurisdiction.


Than why not say 'in India', instead of 'Indian'? There are many Indian people living and working in the US, with US citizenship. Conversely, if they had been US citizens ('Americans') living in India, the legal problem may have been similar.

Saying 'low-level Indian contractors' brings to mind a specific, at least somewhat xenophobic, image,and is very often used very casually.


You seem to have assumed that the poster is talking about ethnicity or heritage rather than citizenship or geographical location.

One of the things that I like about HN over (say) Reddit is the guidelines for comments work pretty well. I’m particularly thinking of “Assume good faith.” - absent any other evidence, it’s better to assume that other posters are not racist assholes if you’re not sure if someone is talking about citizenship versus ethnicity.


The vast majority of people living on India are Indian, no?


Almost everyone living in India is Indian, but not all Indians live in India.


But if I were a betting man, I'd wager that the vast majority of Indians in the world do live in India, based purely on the population total of India.


True. But most of the people commenting here in this thread are not from India, so most of the Indians we interact with are probably not in India.


Legally speaking, US citizens would still be liable.


Well said. There are Indians under US jurisdiction. It is painful to see people contorting themselves to defend xenophobia and casual racism.


Referring (india, a country not a color) to Issues relating to doing business/relying on decisions via work takin plce in a country other than the one where the business and its customers are is a bit different than ‘black’


Credible research suggests that levels of honesty differ across countries:

Gächter, S. and Schulz, J.F., 2016. Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies. Nature, 531(7595), pp.496-499. Hugh-Jones, D., 2016. Honesty, beliefs about honesty, and economic growth in 15 countries. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 127, pp.99-114.

NB: I'm the author of the latter.

This doesn't have to imply racism, there are numerous reasons why people might behave differently in different environments. Different culture, different institutional incentives, a different economic environment....


I assume it would be perfectly fine if they directed these kinds of decisions to Indian high level FTE’s. The problem here is not that they’re Indian :P


Casual racism is not ok man, this has nothing to do with nationality. I know tech industry workers are sensitive about outsourcing, but don't make it about nationality. If these companies are happy to sell in India they should not have problem hiring.

India regularly extradites people who have been indicted in USA.


You can't honestly tell me you believe the deterrence effect is just as strong whether someone is US based or not.


It can be, Indian call center scammers are more scared of FBI than Indian law enforcement.

Criminals have different value set nothing to do with nationality. We still have a article on the front page about an American CEO embezzing funds. You will not hear anyone saying be careful of American CEOs.


If criminals in India are more afraid of the FBI than Indian law enforcement, that tells me Indian law enforcement is bad. I want my employees to be under the jurisdiction of good law enforcement, not bad law enforcement.


That's xenophobia clouding your judgement. These crimes are happening in USA so of course US law enforcement gets them.


>Indian call center scammers are more scared of FBI than Indian law enforcement.

I thought that "Indian call center" means that it's in India.


That's not the relevant comparison.


So you're saying that it's ok to for Amazon to sell in India but not hire there?


Please read the above comments, in particular the part about critical business functions.


You originally stated that: This has long been a major issue with Amazon - often the people making the decisions as to whether a business with dozens of employees gets to keep selling or goes bankrupt are being paid less than US minimum wage in another country.

So I'm assuming you're saying that they shouldn't hire in India apparently because of less than minimum wage. So these kinds of things can be avoided if Amazon were to hire decision makers who make minimum wage or whatever the lowest amount they can get away with in US?

As you know, the sellers and buyers are global. So should Amazon divide its operations so that Indian employees only process sales and purchases based in India? What happens with sales from India to USA or vice-versa?

I am failing to grasp what exactly it is that you are saying here. With respect to extradition, India and USA already have a treaty.


>So I'm assuming you're saying that they shouldn't hire in India apparently because of less than minimum wage.

That's not what I said.

>So these kinds of things can be avoided if Amazon were to hire decision makers who make minimum wage or whatever the lowest amount they can get away with in US?

That would address some of the issues and not others, all of which were laid out in my original comment. (Hint: read the words after "Indian".)

>process sales and purchases

This had nothing to do with my comment, which is clearly not about people processing sales.


>That would address some of the issues and not others, all of which were laid out in my original comment. (Hint: read the words after "Indian".)

I originally literally quoted the entire sentence from your original comment, which came after "Indian". We could do without the snide remarks. I was genuinely trying to get your position, but all you are doing is making snide remarks and attempting to make yourself sound more knowledgeable than you are about the issue.


You twice made incorrect assumptions about what I believed. That's not necessary if you're just trying to understand it.

Now you're asserting that I'm lacking some knowledge about the issue, without bothering to specify what knowledge, specifically, I might be lacking.

This is not how good faith conversations tend to go.


[flagged]


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Indian

Notice definition A. My usage is valid.

If someone thought I meant definition B, I'm sorry about that, I thought it was clear in context, given that OP listed the location and not the ancestry.


I work for Amazon and have had people reach out to me about doing this with a large price tag attached to it.


Speak to your manager about it. Be prepared to speak to legal about it.

Not doing so - even if you don't do what they're asking - is possible grounds for disciplinary action if discovered later, e.g. these people are caught bribing others, their files are gone through, and your name pops up as somebody they approached and it's realised you kept quiet. At that point you may have damaged the trust your employer has in you.


Report this to your company and law enforcement.


The advice here to tell your employer and law enforcement is such an awful idea. They're more likely to target you and suspect you coordinated with them even if you didn't. HR and legal isn't there to help you - they're there to help the company.


I know a person who is literally from a third world country. And he operates some Florida based cosmetic shops virtual assistance effort. They have a 30 member team operating day and night doing something shady.

People often underestimate how successful the successful dropshippers are.


How much is “large”?


Much more than I'm getting paid at Amazon.


Over what length of time?


I didn't get into the details because I was adamantly against doing it.


What you're getting paid at Amazon has the dimension of money/time; a bribe is presumably just money. We need to know the time period to reasonably compare the two :). Otherwise it's like saying "the distance to city is much larger than the speed of my car".


tbh, I've already said more than I'd like to about the matter.


Did you consider reporting the people who reached out to you? Is there even a method in which to doso? Not sure if that would internal or externally.


I work at a different large tech company and there are absolutely internal ways to report any kind of suspicious contacts. I'd be shocked if every large company didn't have at least some way.


Even if there isn't a way, you just lift the phone and dial the general counsel.


How does it matter? Take away is the money offered is not trivial and looks like much beyond the money needed for splurging on a nice new German car.

Kudos to the OP on taking a moral stand. How many would do that?


Not sure about OC but in this indictment it's $100k presumably paid to multiple people

> over $100,000 in commercial bribes to Amazon employees and contractors, in exchange for an unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace


$100k is a very tidy sum in India. Even $10k isn't pocket money.

This is why those labelling the comments about Indian outsourcing as racist as missing the point. Outsourcing significant business operations to developing countries makes corruption and hostile interference really really cheap - and therefore far more likely.


Uh, I live in Kansas City and $10k isn’t exactly pocket money.



How, as an Amazon customer, do you report something that looks odd and could be shady? (It involves the term "debit card credit voucher", if that helps any. And do you all have your Amazon purchases show up as Seattle ATM withdrawals?)


The other thing that's funny, is that Amazon.com's "help/ customer service" page doesn't offer a way or visible path to speak to a customer service human anymore.


And today my chromebook has suddenly lost all its history, settings, and downloaded local files. I wonder if there was a way to have backed them up.


"and local files, that I had downloaded." Unfortunately these also included the screen captures I had made of oddlooking browser window content.


> (a) sharing competitive intelligence about competitors’ revenues, customers, advertising campaigns, and suppliers; (b) using their inside access to Amazon’s network to suspend competitors’ 3P accounts; and (c) providing consultants with information about Amazon’s internal algorithms,

This is mildly amusing, because obviously Amazon does all of these things, but it's fine because they're Amazon.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/wsj-amazon-uses-data-from-th...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/29/bezos-t...


"conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud"

Ah yes.

They are charged with "using electronic communications or digital networks to obtain money based on false representation or promises." Remember fraudsters: If you just meet these people at a McDonalds you wont be charged with a crime. Do not use mail or wires and watch the government squirm.

https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual...


For it to be a federal crime there (typically) needs to be an inter-state aspect to it. It's typically very easy to show that the communication crossed state lines if it was over the Internet, which removes jurisdictional challenges.

If you defraud your local grocery store with your coordination meetings in a local mcdonalds, it's _probably_ a state crime. ()

() (1) there are many ways a crime can slip into federal jurisdiction; (2) IANAL, so don't take advice from me when you're about to commit fraud.


Amazon operates in all 50 states.

For it to be a federal crime, there just needs to be federal interest. They can make it a federal crime if they're interested.


That's not true. To pick the first example I was able to find:

In United States v. Lopez, ___ U.S.____, 115 S.Ct. 1624 (1995), the Supreme Court invalidated, as beyond the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause, the Gun Free School Zone Act, which criminalized the possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a school.

https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual...


I'm not a lawyer but I'm super willing to bet that someone who embarasses both Amazon and the FBI is gonna wind up with a federal rap and very few friends to fight it.


For it to be a federal crime, there just needs to be federal interest. They can make it a federal crime if they're interested.

Federal Interest doesn't define the jurisdiction of the Federal laws.


Not sure if you are being sarcastic but the federal government, if it wants to go after you, will say any crime involves electronic communications or digital networks either directly or indirectly.


>Do not use mail or wires and watch the government squirm.

Why? Presumably because the state prosecutors are poorly funded compared to federal prosecutors?


No, because border crossing crimes are federal crimes and carry a much heftier penalty. In this case, talking about doing something like this wouldn't even be criminal if done orally but digitally it is.


Verbally planning out a crime sounds like criminal conspiracy to me. Just harder to make the case if no evidence is generated.


Whats the difference between a bribe and payment for services? legally?

For example, is an employee selling their knowledge about how a company works a bribe? Software contractors often sell information like that. But it does seem bribe-like.


The difference is whose pocket the money goes into. If it goes to the government, or the company, that the official represents, it's a fee. If the official pockets the money, it's a bribe (or possibly fraud / embezzlement).

Good rule of thumb: always get a receipt. No receipt, it's a bribe. If you're given a genuine-looking receipt, then you can probably get off the hook as a victim of fraud.


Plenty of ways to pay a bribe AND get a receipt.

A popular scheme in my country:

- politician runs, possibly through proxy, nearly defunct NGO

- company supports NGO

- politician votes in favor of a company

- after politician's stint is over, he runs a series of speeches for the NGO to cash out


It's not bribe if it's an authentic, official channel.

For eg. if the DMV starts a program where you can pay $50 to get an instant walk-in appointment, it's not a bribe. However, if a DMV employee asks you to slip her a 50 dollar bill in return of an instant appointment, that is a bribe.


Line jumping is revenue center for theme parks these days. At Disneyland it's called the MaxPass, at LegoLand, the Fastrack. I'm sure there are others.


At the TSA, it's called PreCheck.


Not that I care much at all these days, but were there a checkpoint offered with no PreCheck, I, as a non-PreCheck person, would prefer that one even if it took more time.


An employee receives monetary payment from their employer. Any money earned from outside of their employer for doing something at their job is the bribe.


The article says 10 employees and contractors accepted the bribes but this seems to be focused on those paying. I hope they also go after those accepting the bribes.


There’s a weird dynamic in bribes. If I offer you a bribe and you don’t take it, I can still claim that you did. Or I can muddy the waters by claiming that you asked for it.

One idea I’ve seen is that it should be legal to accept a bribe but not offer or solicit one. On taking the bribe, your legal protection is conditional on handing over the bribe to the appropriate authorities. There’s still some game theory at work, but you’ve at least given people that are susceptible to bribes some additional power.


My personal gut reaction is to avoid touching dirty money at all costs. Life’s too short to try and explain that to a law enforcement professional with no imagination.


Or you can use the dirty money and hire high profile lawyers and just get a slap on the wrist, pay a small fine and move on.


In some places, they slap you on the wrist with a sword.


If you get to keep the bribe only once the briber is found guilty, it gets even more tempting.


Agreed. Accepting the bribe seems to be a worse offense than offering it. I'm not sure why the employees were not indicted.


I didn't accept a bribe. I went to the restroom, and when I came back there was suddenly an envelope full of cash on my desk. None of my co-workers knew anything about it, so I just assumed 'lucky me'. The timing of approving those plans is just coincidental. I was going to approve them anyways.


"According to the Indictment, since at least 2017, the defendants have used bribery and fraud to benefit merchant accounts on the Amazon Marketplace, resulting in more than $100 million..."

Interesting that only the 3rd party sellers are indicted here. At least that's how it reads.

Maybe it's more complex on the Amazon side and some second wave is coming.


I would assume this goes on A LOT. There is a lot of trust given to employees in tech companies.


Agreed. I think the people who set up these contracted “decision centers” (things like user report reviews, fraud handling, adult content policing) subconsciously assume the workers will have the same loyalty and comfortable lifestyle that salaried tech employees get. Take contracted US-based call centers: a significant fraction of their employees will be home-insecure (staying with relatives or partners, or moving every few weeks), living out of their car, or straight up homeless, making minimum wage with less-than-fulltime weekly hours. A significant majority will be short-term employees who bounce after a few months or years. Even $10k bribe—especially untaxed—could be a year’s spare income or more. It’s a very different value proposition.


Which is also why I find it so hard to trust these technology giants, especially on the topic of privacy and personal data.


The most interesting part of this is that Amazon’s confidential data was revealed. What level were these employees operating at? Or is this just trumping up charges on support center employees?

100k is not nearly enough to bribe several tech employees. But it’s impressive how effective bribing support can be.


Yes, as the world moves more and more toward online commerce, a statute specifically crafted for "fraud using transmission of information over wires" is just the modern tool we need to fight back.


Looks like they bribed the wrong people.


Amazing. Bezos outsourcing compliance to the federal government, saving money and getting access to harsher punishments than he can dispense himself. Genius


Hard to say if they saved money. This fraud definitely has a negative impact on both sellers and buyers. Buyers are losing trust in Amazon due to sub standard products. Sellers are getting fed up and quitting or moving on.


Waiting for the real indictments from 2008 fraud. Until then, whatever.


Which fraud are you referring to?




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