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Federal Trade Commission charges several in 'deceptive' Amazon scheme

The Federal Trade Commission said March 23 that it had charged a number of entities and individuals with violating FTC rules through deceptive workshops promising consumers they could make thousands of dollars selling products on Amazon.com Inc.

The FTC case stems from a pair of separate lawsuits filed in December 2017 by Amazon as well as Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleging that a pair of brothers, through in-person and online workshops, preyed on consumers through dubious "get rich quick" scams promising income through selling on Amazon.

The commission investigated the allegations and filed a formal complaint, which is filed when it believes a law has been violated. The commission said March 23 it has approved the complaint, but the case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The defendants in the FTC case include six entities and three individuals alleged to have violated the FTC Act and the Business Opportunity Rule. They are AWS LLC, FBA Distributors LLC, Massachusetts-based FBA Stores LLC, Info Pros LLC, and two Online Auction Learning Center Inc. businesses located in Massachusetts and Nevada. The FTC also charged brothers Christopher Bowser and Adam Bowser, as well as Jody Marshall in the investigation, which includes allegations of misleading advertising and high-pressure training.

According to the FTC, the defendants charged anywhere from $995 to more than $35,000 for courses that would allegedly help people who took them earn thousands of dollars per month through Amazon sales, including a pitch of making $5,000 to $10,000 in 30 days.

In reality, the FTC said that many of the tactics violated Amazon's terms and rules, and virtually all of the purchasers of the program did not earn the advertised income.

The FTC said the entities and individuals charged have no affiliation with Amazon.

An Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence on March 23 that the company has "zero tolerance for fraud."

"Amazon is investing heavily in protecting the integrity of the Amazon marketplace for consumers and sellers," the spokesperson said. "We take independent legal action against bad actors, in addition to working with consumer protection agencies and law enforcement to protect our customers and sellers."

Amazon also charged in its December 2018 lawsuit that the brothers "deceitfully" suggested that they are affiliated with Amazon, adding that they "have no special information about Amazon and no way to offer consumers any advantage as Amazon sellers."