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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Online Retailer Pleads Guilty for Fixing Prices of Wall Posters

Second Defendant to Plead Guilty in Ongoing Investigation

An e-commerce retailer pleaded guilty today for conspiring to fix the prices of posters sold online, the Department of Justice announced today.

Trod Ltd. (doing business as Buy 4 Less, Buy For Less and Buy-For-Less-Online), a U.K. company headquartered in Birmingham, England, pleaded guilty to fixing the prices of certain posters sold online through Amazon Marketplace from as early as September 2013 until in or about January 2014.  Trod Ltd. was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California in San Francisco on Aug. 27, 2015. 

“E-commerce is among the fastest growing segments of our economy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “For this robust growth to continue, customers must be confident that they will receive the same benefits of vigorous competition on the web as they do at brick-and-mortar stores.  We will continue to ensure that happens by investigating and prosecuting schemes that harm online shoppers.”

According to the indictment, Trod Ltd. and its co-conspirators agreed to adopt specific pricing algorithms for the sale of certain posters sold on Amazon Marketplace, with the goal of offering online shoppers the same price for the same product and coordinating changes to their respective prices.  

This prosecution arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing in the online wall décor industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office with the assistance of the FBI’s San Francisco Division.  Anyone with information on price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the wall décor industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Updated August 11, 2016