The Department of Justice has started a probe of Amazon third-party sellers; as part of the investigation, Amazon has asked customers to cooperate with the agency. Amazon has informed customers who might have bought products from certain third-party sellers.
The email Amazon sent to customers and obtained by Reuters stated: “We wanted to notify you directly about this matter in the event that you are contacted by the Department of Justice in connection with its investigation,” Joell Parks, senior law enforcement response specialist for Amazon said.
It is unclear if the investigation is linked to COVID-19 – related price gouging on the platform. Amazon has been pushed by lawmakers, including Sen. Markey (D-Mass.) and sued in a class action complaint to stop those sellers. Four other lawmakers, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Antitrust Committee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), have sent a letter to the DOJ urging it to probe the issue.
Amazon previously stated it was working with state attorney generals to “identify and prosecute” these third-party sellers, who were increasing prices on cleaning and medical supplies, such as hand sanitizer, disinfectants, masks, and gloves. It would also limit the types of sellers who can sell health and sanitation supplies on Amazon.
“On my watch, we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said. “While there remains no cause for widespread panic, some people are looking to prey on others’ anxiety and line their own pockets. My office will remain vigilant in ensuring that we find and stop such unlawful activity and continue to ask the public to report suspected fraud, scams, or price gouging to my office.”