EBay Sues Amazon, Alleging Criminal Conspiracy in Recruiting Sellers

Managers created fake accounts to engage the rival's vendors, according to the complaint

Tablet with eBay logo
The complaint says Amazon targeted eBay sellers who could 'fill holes in Amazon’s swath of product offerings.'
Getty Images

Ecommerce platform eBay has filed a lawsuit against three Amazon managers after it says the defendants created fake eBay member accounts to access its internal email system to “solicit many hundreds of eBay sellers.”

The complaint lists the following defendants: Sonja Boch, Amazon’s head of global seller recruitment and success; Amanda Sullivan Hedger, account executive at Amazon Advertising; and Ernest Arambula, a sales manager for Amazon Business. However, the filing notes the ecommerce platform plans to “amend its complaint to add additional managers who were involved to the case … once it learns their identities.”

The filing says Amazon employees opened eBay accounts “with no intent of ever using them to conduct legitimate business,” which violates eBay’s user agreement and policies.

The suit also alleges Amazon trained its sales representatives to avoid detection by using tactics like changing the presentation of Amazon email addresses, using unconventional phone number formats and using variations on the Amazon name, such as a-m-a-z-o-n, A.M.Z.N and AMZ.

Amazon representatives had seller recruitment quotas and “were expected to satisfy large chunks of those quotas by targeting and illegally recruiting eBay sellers,” according to the complaint. Amazon representatives even talked about the scheme’s success with seller prospects to persuade more to then sell on Amazon, the filing says.

In addition, eBay says Amazon “directed and encouraged sales representatives to target certain types of eBay sellers who could supply trending items or fill holes in Amazon’s swath of product offerings.”

EBay says it brings the action to stop the conspiracy and to obtain redress.

“Based on new details brought to us, it is clear that Amazon’s illegal scheme to target Ebay sellers is more coordinated, systemic and pervasive than originally thought,” an eBay spokesperson wrote in a statement. “There are laws to protect against anti-competitive and illegal tactics and we have every intention of holding the company and specific ringleaders accountable.”

According to the New York Times, this is the latest in a monthslong legal battle, which originated with a similar case last fall that is now in arbitration.

An eBay spokesperson said the difference is the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is directed toward specific Amazon employees and focuses on a criminal conspiracy.

Amazon declined to comment.

Recommended articles