18:50 GMT17 June 2021
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    The suspended accounts earned more than $1bn USD in gross merchandise value (GMV) for the company, a top exec at one of the world's largest e-commerce platforms said in a report.

    At least 11 vendors from Greater China have been removed from Amazon, Marketplace Pulse founder Juozas Kaziukenas said as quoted by TechCrunch on Wednesday.

    TechCrunch reported major Chinese consumer electronics firms such as Aukey and [Mpow] were removed from the platform, leading to a loss of over $1m USD in annual sales.

    Amazon had “long-standing policies to protect the integrity of our store" via product authenticity, genuine review and goods "meeting the expectations of our customers," the firm said in a statement to TechCrunch.

    "We take swift action against those that violate them, including suspending or removing selling privileges,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch at the time.

    But WeChat groups cited in the report allegedly said the bans were "unprecedented".

    “This isn’t the first time Amazon has shut down accounts over fake reviews and other behavior that violate its rules, but the scale of this wave is unprecedented,” Bill Zhang, a smart training suit developer and exporter said on WecChat as quoted by TechCrunch.

    But according to an executive working with Chinese exporters cited in the report, Chinese businesses had manipulated reviews via fake orders and leaving seller feedback with fake accounts.

    Product review services were also used to avoid detection from Amazon's algorithms with virtual credit cards, IP proxies and others, the executive added.

    Five exporters cited by TechCrunch said that SafetyDetectives, a cybersecurity company, said in a report it had found a massive number of direct messages from servers allegedly from China.

    "The server contained a treasure trove of direct messages between Amazon vendors and customers willing to provide fake reviews in exchange for free products. In total, 13,124,962 of these records (or 7 GB of data) have been exposed in the breach, potentially implicating more than 200,000 people in unethical activities," the report read.

    The SafetyDetectives report added it was unclear who owned the database.

    TechCrunch also admitted the reported did not mention names of sellers suspected of the activities and claims against the firms could not be verified. Amazon did not admit whether it had known about the data breach.

    The news comes amid tensions between Washington and Beijing, who have been locked in a trade war since 2016, with the former accusing the latter of intellectual property theft and unfair trading practices.

    The trade war spilled over into a tech war in 2018, leading to dozerns of Chinese tech firms being blacklisted by the former Trump administration and further restrictions from the Biden government in 2021.

    Bans on key US technologies, including semiconductors and software, to Chinese tech firms such as Huawei, SMIC and others have triggered a tech race between the two global economies last year.


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    ecommerce, fraud, identity fraud, China, Amazon, cybersecurity
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