Amazon files lawsuit to dismantle illegal advertising scheme targeting customers

Cecilia Nysing

Amazon filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against several individuals allegedly running an illegal advertising scheme targeting its customers via text messages.

The Seattle-based company is trying to hold the individuals – who have yet to be identified – accountable for allegedly creating fraudulent text message campaigns using Amazon’s name to drive traffic to other advertisers or websites.

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The text messages are designed to appear as they were sent by the e-commerce giant and encourage customers to click a link by promising “rewards” or other “gifts,” Amazon told FOX Business.  

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Customers are redirected to a website where they are asked to participate in a survey for a reward. After completing the survey, however, they’re directed to other online marketers, advertisers and websites to buy products or services that are unaffiliated with Amazon. 

A person works with a laptop and mobile phone. (iStock)

The individuals responsible for the scam are then paid by affiliate marketing networks and advertisers for driving the traffic to the sites, Amazon said. 

The lawsuit filed in the Western District of Washington is part of the company’s continued efforts to combat fraudulent schemes targeting Amazon customers.  

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Amazon has a history of facing fraudulent affiliate marketing schemes and has filed numerous lawsuits to stop the illegal activity. 

Three cases stem from June 2020, when Amazon filed suits in Georgia, Michigan and Texas to stop fraudulent affiliate marketing schemes. 

One year earlier, the company took legal action against an Illinois-based affiliate marketer, First Impression Interactive, Inc. and its owners, who Amazon said was “responsible for advertising fake work-from-home jobs with Amazon.” 

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“Amazon works hard to build a great, trusted experience for our customers and sellers. These bad actors are misusing our brand to deceive the public and we will hold them accountable,” Kathy Sheehan, Amazon’s vice president of business conduct and ethics, said in a statement to FOX Business. 

Sheehan is urging customers to “be vigilant and learn how to recognize the signs of a scam so they are protected, no matter where they shop.”

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