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Amazon investigates claims of bribery, review manipulation

By Ed Adamczyk
Amazon investigates claims of bribery, review manipulation
A delivery driver sorts packages to be delivered in Beijing. Amazon is looking into claims Chinese employees are taking bribes to release confidential data to online sellers. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Amazon said it is investigating reports that some employees took bribes to leak internal data and alter negative product reviews on its website.

The sellers, brokers and others familiar with the investigation said Amazon employees are selling information making it easier for independent sellers on the website to get higher rankings for their products, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

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The report said negative ratings were deleted and confidential sales information were provided for payments between $80 and $2,000, brokers for Amazon employees in the Chinese city of Shenzhen said. They referred to an average of $300 to remove a bad product review.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the retailer is investigating the claims.

"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," she told CNN. "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, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action," she said.

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Several claims are under investigation, including at least one involving Amazon's U.S. employees.

Amazon sued more than 1,000 people in 2015 who were "misleading" customers with "fake reviews of products." The lawsuit targeted Fiverr.com, a website marketplace linking buyers and sellers for performance of odd jobs.

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