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Seven Amazon employees helped an outside scammer hijack Amazon seller accounts and copy their products, for which they received cash payments, according to a story in Wired magazine. Much of the story comes from an Amazon internal memo obtained by the publication. According to the account, the seven unnamed employees were recruited via LinkedIn and Facebook by someone using the alias Krasr. Krasr’s identity has been reported by CNBC to be Mohamed Multhazim Akbar Ali, of Toronto, Ontario. Over several years of assisting Krasr, the Amazon insiders collectively earned about $160,000.
- The report discusses cases already several years old. The employees in this case were fired sometime around 2018.
- Among other schemes, the Amazon employees worked with Krasr to rip off and displace a popular skin-care product called Pure Daily Care.
- Krasr unleashed an avalanche of negative reviews targeting Pure Daily Care, leading to a $400,000 loss for the company and 50 percent staff cut.
- According to Wired’s description of the internal memos, the seven insiders divulged customer data and product information to Krasr.
- At Krasr’s behest, the insiders also blocked and reinstated sellers’ access to their online stores, enabling Krasr to sell copies of popular products while preventing the sellers of the original product from making theirs available for purchase, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen sales.
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- Krasr worked with the employees to set up ransom payments, whereby victimized sellers could pay Krasr to get back to selling online.
- Amazon purportedly reported Krasr to the FBI and hired a private investigator to find him.
- Presented with the Wired story before publication, an Amazon spokesperson said the company has invested billions of dollars to keep data secure, adding “the claims made in the Wired story are based on information that is outdated and out-of-context and have absolutely no bearing on Amazon’s current security posture.”
- The Amazon memo also revealed that, in a separate case, two Amazon employees in China had previously accepted bribes and sold personal data.
- With such a large and rapidly growing company, it is alarming but not surprising that a few staff would scheme to take illegal profit.
- According to the Real News podcast, a former IT security VP at Amazon asserted the company lacked an insider threat program at the time of his employment (until 2017).
- While monitoring social media is a legal minefield, it is significant the insiders were recruited via social media.
- This case reinforces the importance of training staff on the uses and abuses of social media and the prevalence of scammers who recruit via social media platforms.
Sources & Additional Information
This is a feature story from the November issue of our Insider Signal Plus Newsletter in which iThreat and Michael Gips share our insights on important stories about insider threat incidents and how organizations can prevent, reduce, and respond to similar insider threat incidents. Would you like to make sure you are aware of insider and other threats facing your organization? Need to figure out who is behind the aliases, groups, websites, and communities targeting your executives, key staff, intellectual property, sensitive information, facilities, business reputation, brands, and business continuity? SignalAlert Monitoring and Investigations Programs help our clients address these problems and more.