Affiliate Marketing

Amazon Announces Lawsuit to Combat Fraudulent Affiliate Marketing Schemes

Amazon Supports Department of Justice’s Prosecution of Four Defendants Charged with Fraud
Written by publishing team

Seattle – (work wire) – Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN):

what:

Amazon today filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Washington against several as-yet-unnamed individuals for operating an illegal advertising scheme. The bad actors involved use the Amazon name in text messages and in fake surveys as part of their affiliate marketing scheme. The lawsuit allows Amazon to expand its investigation and hold the wrongdoers accountable. This lawsuit is part of the company’s growing efforts to protect consumers from schemes that fraudulently use the Amazon name.

The bad actors of these schemes profit by creating fraudulent text message campaigns that drive traffic to advertisers and websites. These fake text messages are intentionally designed to trick unsuspecting consumers into clicking on a link using the Amazon name and offering recipients “rewards” or other “gifts.”

Instead, victims are redirected to a website to take a survey, which also fraudulently uses the Amazon brand and promises a reward for participation. Once participants click to get their reward, they are sent to marketers, advertisers, and online websites to purchase products or services unrelated to Amazon. Defendants benefit from fees paid to them by affiliate marketing networks and advertisers for fraudulently generated traffic.

Amazon invests significant resources to protect customers and its brand, and has a history of identifying and shutting down similar operations. Amazon has already filed five lawsuits against fraudulent affiliate marketing schemes, won multiple court orders to stop the illegal activities, and entered into settlements with seven parties in which they agreed to stop their campaigns and pay over $1.5 million in damages.

Statement (attributed to Cathy Sheehan, Vice President, Professional Conduct and Ethics, Amazon)

“Amazon works hard to build a great, trusted experience for our customers and sellers. These bad actors are misusing our brand to deceive the public and we will hold them accountable. We also want to remind consumers to be vigilant and learn to recognize the signs of fraud so they are protected, no matter where they shop.”

Additional background:

  • Case: 2: 21-cv-00627, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

  • The Better Business Bureau offers simple tips on how to spot and avoid scams, https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/8767-bbb-tips-10-steps-to-avoid-scams

  • In March 2021, the U.S. District Court of Utah filed an injunction from the Federal Trade Commission against four companies for operating a telemarketing scheme that fraudulently used the Amazon Associates name to offer fake work-from-home opportunities.

    https://press.aboutamazon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/ftc-obtains-permanent-ban-and-2m-juducation-work-home-scammer

  • In June 2020, Amazon shut down three email-based affiliate marketing schemes in Michigan, Colorado, and California.

    https://press.aboutamazon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/amazon-stops-multiple-fraudulent-affiliate-marketing-schemes

  • In April 2019, Amazon discontinued an Illinois-based affiliate marketing company, First Impression Interactive, Inc. and its owners from posting fake work-from-home jobs with Amazon. As a result of Amazon’s efforts, First Impression and its owners are now prohibited from using the Amazon trademark in any future marketing.

    https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2019/04/10/amazon-work-from-home-job-scam-first-impression-interactive/

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