The consultant, Ephraim Rosenberg, had previously denied the accusations that are rooted in a 2020 indictment. But, along with the public LinkedIn post on Monday, a notice of a “change of plea” hearing (i.e., to guilty) appeared in public court documents Friday.
“On some occasions, I paid bribes, directly and indirectly, to Amazon employees to obtain annotations and reinstate suspended accounts,” Rosenberg wrote on LinkedIn.
“This conduct is wrong and criminal,” he added.
Back in 2020, U.S. prosecutors revealed it had indicted six people, including Rosenberg, for a scheme that involved bribes to Amazon employees for reinstating the accounts of sellers who were removed from Amazon as well as obtain information about how to help companies get back on the platform.
Prosecutors claimed that Rosenberg and others helped sellers who violated Amazon’s policies or endangered customers get back onto the platform, such as “household electronics that had been flagged as flammable” or “dietary supplements that had been suspended because of customer-safety complaints.”
Rosenberg is the founder of Amazon Sellers Group, an online education and connecting platform for sellers. It is unclear to what extent his business figured in the conduct for which he is facing charges.
Sellers on Amazon face a hypercompetitive environment where they use things like ads to ensure they can reach customers on the first page. This is where about 70% percent of sales occur, per Eli Coen, CEO at Lero, an e-commerce consultancy, told Entrepreneur.
But sellers have “long complained” of being booted off the Amazon platform seemingly for no reason, as Bloomberg wrote. Amazon even introduced a new program in November 2022 in Canada and the U.S. called “Account Health Assurance,” where it would connect with sellers one-on-one about suspensions, the outlet added.
As CNBC noted, Rosenberg will appear in court on March 30 to change his plea. The move is a marked shift from even a short time ago. He told the outlet via LinkedIn last month that the charges were a “conspiracy.”
“In the course of this case, I have made some public statements about this prosecution and the indictment. Those statements are not accurate and I disavow those statements,” he added in his Monday LinkedIn post.
However, people did come to his defense in the comments. “I appreciate your honesty and courage admitting your wrongdoing,” one user wrote.
“But I also wanted to acknowledge the fact that you’ve helped (saved) tons of Amazon sellers, their families, and their employees by reinstating their Amazon accounts,” they added.