Amazon is investigating charges that some of its employees might have leaked internal data to merchants. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the ongoing data theft is largely being seen in China, and Amazon was tipped off about the same in May. The issue will affect Amazon, as almost half of its products are made available through third-party sellers.
As per the WSJ report, independent sellers are able to contact Amazon staff through independent brokers. The communication transpire over Tencent-owned messaging platform WeChat, from which sellers bribed Amazon insiders, in lieu of data regarding their product listings.
Through this information, sellers managed to delete negative product reviews, and restore banned accounts for payments ranging between $80 (Rs 5,800 approx.) and $2000 (Rs 1,44,990 approx.).
One of the examples cited is that of bad reviews, which were replaced at a cost of $300 (Rs 21,749 approx.). Through these practices, local Chinese sellers aim to compete with Amazon’s products, and improve their search ranking among other listed products.
In response, Amazon has said it is conducting a ‘thorough investigation’ into the practice, while stating that it held ‘zero tolerance’ for the misuse of its platform. As per a company spokesperson, Amazon is considering various options regarding the incident: ‘terminating their selling accounts’, ‘withholding funds’, ‘deleting reviews’, and ‘taking legal action’.
As per the conduct of its own employees, the spokesperson said, “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.”