Amazon Marketplace Seller Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing DVDs and Blu-ray Discs
A Tennessee man pleaded guilty today to fixing the prices of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs sold on Amazon Marketplace.
According to court documents filed in Knoxville, David Camp was charged with conspiring with others to fix prices of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs sold through Amazon Marketplace. The price-fixing conspiracy was ongoing from at least as early as May 2018 until at least Oct. 29, 2019. Camp is the first individual to be charged and the first individual to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation.
“American consumers deserve the benefits of competitive pricing, whether they’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores or in an online marketplace,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “By their actions, the defendant and his co-conspirators denied purchasers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs free and open competition, and instead lined their own pockets. The division remains dedicated to safeguarding online sales from collusion, especially as online shopping becomes increasingly ubiquitous.”
According to the one-count information, Camp and his co-conspirators agreed to raise and maintain the prices of DVDs and Blu-rays sold in their Amazon Marketplace stores. Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that enables third-party vendors to sell new or used products alongside Amazon’s own offerings. Amazon Marketplace is owned and operated by Amazon.com Inc.
“Honest, competitive pricing of goods allows consumers to purchase products at fair market value, which provides an overall benefit to the individual customer and the market as a whole,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Partnering with competitors to fix prices of goods at higher-than-necessary rates removes this protection for consumers — it’s also illegal, whether it happens on an online platform or in a face-to-face transaction. Today’s guilty plea should remind other like-minded individuals that they will eventually have to answer for this type of behavior.”
“Activities related to collusion, bid rigging and market allocation do not promote an environment conducive to open competition, which harms the consumer,” said Acting Executive Special Agent in Charge Steven Stuller of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General. “Along with the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement partners, the USPS Office of Inspector General will aggressively investigate those who would engage in this type of harmful conduct.”
A criminal violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the FBI’s New York Field Office and the USPS Office of Inspector General’s Great Lakes Regional Investigations Office in Chicago.
Anyone with information concerning price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct related to the sale of DVDs, Blu-rays or products sold through Amazon Marketplace should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office at 312-984-7200, the Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, or the FBI’s New York Field Office at 212-384-1000.