A NEW Problem Caused By the Fraudulent "Just Launched" Sellers & Hijackers


#1

By now, many sellers have experienced the pervasive problem of fraudulent sellers popping up on their product listing. This problem is bad enough since they have to be reported to get them to stop, which takes time and energy.

Rushdie has provided excellent advice and template on how to combat this as a seller (thank you for this) and has been very generous with his/her advice. A link can be found here: [https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=342636&tstart=0]

But now I’ve discovered that it may be starting to affect the inner workings of seller central and some of its features and algorithms. For us, it has been Lightning Deals. I have read elsewhere here that many sellers don’t like these deals because of the high cost and difficulty making money in them. There is truth to this. We were continuing with them as a loss leader to boost the product profile a bit.

But what happened to us seven weeks ago, is many of our previously approved upcoming deals started to be suppressed. In talking to customer service, we discovered that this was because the system wanted us to sell it an even lower price than we were selling it for, even though we were already almost 50% off retail.

So for example, we would normally sell a $24 product for $12.99 under a Lightning Deal. Then we discovered the interface would suppress it until we dropped the price to $7.90, which turns a loss into a mega loss.

Since we asked them to correct this 7 weeks ago, we get this message every other day from them:
“Greetings, Thanks for your continued patience. We are currently researching your issue in partnership with our technicians and will provide an update as soon as any additional information becomes available.”

I was hoping that they could forward this to the correct department so they could manually adjust the price upward to where we are losing a small amount of money, rather than forcing us to suspend the deals to avoid +major+ losses. At one point, the support thread was closed because of a canned “resolution” response that had nothing at all to do with our issue. For some reason, this still hasn’t been resolved which is disappointing. If anyone at Amazon (or anyone else) reads these posts, we can sure use your assistance, because we aren’t getting any via seller support.

But regarding the larger issue that affects everyone–that price of $7.90 stuck in my head. When I went to our product page for this particular product, we found two fraudulent sellers of the product. One that was selling the product for, you guessed it, exactly $7.90 with free shipping. See the attached image to get a visual of this.

This leads me to believe that these fraudulent sellers are actually devaluing the products within the A9 search algorithm and making it think that the $24 product is actually only worth $7.90. The LDs are in beta and automatically set these numbers, so it seems that these fraudulent sellers are giving the algorithm bad data to work off of, in addition to causing other tangible problems.

The first ramification of this, is our inability to do a lightning deal at a realistic price point. But it could have other very serious pricing ramifications too to all sellers that we are currently unaware of, which is why I am posting this to bring it to everyone’s attention–and to hopefully solve our own issue(s).

Edited by: SouthShore on Apr 3, 2017 7:43 PM


#2

There was at least one other post about something similar within the last week or two. A seller’s Lightning Deals were suppressed because Amazon’s system now wants the price to be lower to match the scammers who have super-low prices and ship nothing. What a crock.


#3

Has anyone determined what incentive these people have to create these fake accounts? They can’t be getting paid… Is someone trying to sabotage Amazon?


#4

It seems that since most of the orders do not go through ultimately, it is a way to mine for customer data. Theat is the incentive.

For example, if they post a fake listing for 113,000+ popular products (you read that right) they are likely going to sucker a massive amount of people to order from them based solely upon lowest price.

When the customer orders, the fraudulent seller now has a great deal of their personal data needed to fulfill the “order”. So before Amazon blocks them, they may acquire the private info on a massive number of people in which to spam to or sell to an information house.

It is a serious problem, and could really undermine customer confidence and sales if this problem continues to grow.

Edited by: SouthShore on Apr 3, 2017 9:19 PM


#5

Has AZ been “Hi-Jacked”…Surely there are real people running some parts of “The System” if we “pull back the curtain?”


#6

Things like this happen when you let computers run too many things. Humans just can’t be replaced for everything.


#7

I don’t think they have been hijacked. They run some of the most sophisticated web properties in the world. It seems that since they can’t be hacked, this is a roundabout way for bad actors to “hack” their customer data.

And their algos probably aren’t perfect, especially since LD is in beta. But these scammers really shouldn’t have that outsize an infuence on the algo for internal pricing. That is worrisome,

And don’t call me Shirley. :^0


#8

Datamining. Every order they get valuable info that can use used for ID theft and targeted scams.


#9

I agree 100%. To run an operation this big, you need automation. But there needs to be a human failsafe when problems like this arises. And they need to be knowledgeble and competent.

There is no reason in the world why a human can’t look at our problem here and see it is an obvious error, and just make a manual fix. But it has been 7 weeks, and the problem is getting worse.

I think the same with these fake sellers. If a knowlegable human was looking at these accounts, they would be shut down in a heartbeat, or wouldn’t get approved in the first place. But that problem is getting worse as well.

Amazon does many things right, and it is a great platform. But I believe they should hire a large and competent USA based workforce to serve the needs of sellers since we generate nearly 50% of its revenue. We could really use the added support.


#10

Maybe it’s not “A Problem”…Consider That?


#11

Very good incentive:

Accounts created before 2011, can request DAILY disbursements, in addition to data mining.

Since the new trend of older and dormant accounts being hacked, if these dormant accounts are grandfathered in to DAILY disbursements, they may be making a bundle.


#12

Since the marketplaces look at each other to determine if the price is good, it is also affecting sales on other marketplaces.

For example if PriceBlink sees that it is lower on Amazon (because of the scam sellers), then they will display that and customers are directed to Amazon.

Another example, Wal*mart marketplace unpublishes listings if “Customers would save drastically by purchasing this item on a competing website”.

So this is bigger than “just affecting Amazon”.


#13

Not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate a bit?


#14

First off @Rushdie, THANK YOU for your very helpful post on how to deal with the scammers. It is phenomenal advice for every seller here that needs help.

I agree completely with the incentive. And I wasn’t aware of the daily disbursements–it is an excellent point.

But how are Amazon accounts getting hacked? Amazon’s web services are among the very best in the industry. Unrecognized logins are subject to additional security measures before you can access the account. Pure speculation, but could there be some black market for these dormant accounts somewhere?


#15

At my wit’s end, one day, I mentioned, as the final blow to all confidence in Amazon’s apparent inability to stop these scammers, I wondered out loud, +is it possible+, that Amazon itself is behind this entire fiasco, in an effort to rid the platform of 3P sellers.

It was a tongue in cheek comment, that several others have picked up on and not unlikely, crossed others’ minds, but hesitant to come out and say it directly.

I think CabinFeverBooks, literally +has+ cabin fever and they have been “ending their marriage” with Amazon, for as long as I can remember.


#16

Every piece of code has a weakness - somewhere. With a system as large as Amazon’s and although their security protocols, are likely one of the best in the industry, they is obviously a coder out there, who is better.

Not even speculation, there is a very brisk market, on the dark web for +any+ kind of account you can imagine.

Accounts may have been hacked many, many years ago and they are held on to, for the very purpose of selling, replete with fraudulent names, social security numbers, bank accounts, credit card info, etc… all ready to be sold to the highest bidder.


#17

If Amazon wanted to get rid of 3P sellers they would just do it.


#18

+Not+ FBA, +only+ FBM. FBA, Amazon has more control.

As I stated, it was a +tongue in cheek+ comment, but one does have to admit, FBM accounts, are likely the sellers, who need the most help or hand-holding and in many cases, a thorn in Amazon’s side. It may reach a point, where the thorn needs to be pulled from the lion’s foot.

Of course, this is pure speculation, but it was hinted at, during an Amazon conference, last year, to eventually only support FBA.


#19

The 3P sellers are making Amazon a fortune. I think I read the number hovers around 50% of their sales. I can see them wanting to limit sellers that do outside fulfillment and retail arbitrage, but cannot imagine why they would want to do away with all of the unique FBA merchants.


#20

I am 100% FBM for 8 years with 100% 12 month rating, 99% lifetime, 0 negs, average 150 orders per month. I don’t need any hand holding and the cases I open with support are almost all to fix problems with their product pages.

Amazon is 20% of my total online sales, I don’t want to lose that but it certainly wouldn’t put me out of business. I don’t think Amazon really wants to get rid of solid 3P sellers but there is a lot of cleanup needed, and not just for the new scammers. Amazon definitely does require more of my time average per sale than what my other online sales do.

If Amazon decides to take a shotgun approach to solving the 3P problems they have allowed to occur, so be it, but overall they are the loser in that action.