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Amazon filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Washington against several yet-to-be-named individuals for operating an illegal advertising scheme. The bad actors in question are using Amazon’s name in text messages and on fake surveys as part of an affiliate marketing scheme.

The suit allows Amazon to expand its investigation and hold the bad actors accountable. This suit is part of the company’s growing efforts to protect consumers from schemes that fraudulently use Amazon’s name.

Bad actors in 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 to click on a link by using Amazon’s name and offering recipients “rewards” or other “gifts.”

Instead, victims are redirected to a website to take a survey, which also fraudulently uses Amazon’s brand and promises a reward for participation. Once participants click for their reward, they are sent on to online marketers, advertisers and websites to buy products or services that have no relation to Amazon. The defendants profit from fees paid to them by affiliate marketing networks and advertisers for the fraudulently created 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 injunctions in court to stop the illegal activities, and entered settlements with seven parties in which they agreed to stop their campaigns and pay in excess of $1.5 million in damages.

image-Kathy-Sheehan-VP-Business-Conduct-Ethics-Amazon-mediabrief.jpgKathy Sheehan, VP, Business Conduct & Ethics, Amazon, said, “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 how to recognize the signs of a scam so they are protected, no matter where they shop,” Sheehan said.

Background:

  • Case: 2:21-cv-00627, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • In March 2021, the U.S. District Court of Utah the Federal Trade Commission’s filed order against four companies for operating a telemarketing scheme that fraudulently used Amazon Associates’ name to offer fake work-from-home opportunities.
  • In June 2020, Amazon shut down three email based affiliate marketing schemes in Michigan, Colorado, and California.
  • In April 2019, Amazon stopped an Illinois-based affiliate marketer, First Impression Interactive, Inc. and its owners from advertising fake work-from-home jobs with Amazon. As a result of Amazon’s efforts, First Impression and its owners are now prohibited from using Amazon’s brand in any future marketing.