Amazon has filed a lawsuit against two men and their companies, accusing them of swindling customers by promising sales with tactics like fake reviews and questionable schemes, according to reports.
The lawsuit names Matthew Behdjou and Michael Gazzola, and it accuses them of copyright infringement and a marketing scheme that’s meant to be dishonest. The pair hold seminars and meetings claiming that sellers can earn “passive income” in the thousands.
The two men were highlighted in a report in The Atlantic called “How to Lose Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Amazon.”
“Defendants improperly exploit Amazon’s name, intellectual property, and reputation to sell their get-rich-quick scheme to unwitting entrepreneurs around the country,” the lawsuit said. “These victims pay up to tens of thousands of dollars to Defendants based on Defendants’ false portrayal of an affiliation with Amazon, relying on these misrepresentations to start a business selling on Amazon.”
In 2016, the men ran a site called Amazon Secrets, and then split up to form their own businesses. Amazon said they still work together on their scheme.
One of the sites, called “Online Secrets,” features liberal use of the Amazon logo and says it has been featured on a number of television networks.
“Together, my partner and I have generated millions of dollars in revenue online. Not too long ago, we discovered the exact process to start selling on Amz that we believe, has blown away everything we ever knew about making money online,” the testimonial on the site said.
Amazon says that once people join, they are then asked to “exchange reviews in an effort to increase the prominence of their product listing on Amazon’s stores.” The people buy products from each other, give fake reviews, and then get the purchases refunded through payment services.
Amazon calls this a “perpetual cycle of rigged reviews.”