Seattle – An Acworth, Georgia man, who was deeply involved in a bribery scheme to obtain inside information and improper benefits from Amazon employees was sentenced today to 20 months in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Hadis Nuhanovic, 32, used inside information to break Amazon Marketplace platform rules and increase some sellers’ income to the detriment of others. At today’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said there need to be significant consequences for commercial bribery. “I cannot find any other reason for your conduct than greed… Enough was not enough,” Judge Jones said.
“This was a long-running global conspiracy that not only harmed businesses selling on Amazon, it also harmed customers who purchased products unaware that they were counterfeit or the subject of customer complaints,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “Mr. Nuhanovic and his coconspirators bribed Amazon employees to reinstate banned products, or to remove bad reviews. Even after Amazon fired one of the coconspirators, Mr. Nuhanovic didn’t stop, he just recruited and bribed more employees for his and his coconspirators’ benefit.”
According to records filed in the case, since 2010, Nuhanovic operated an e-commerce business selling things such as DVDs, and smartphone cases. From 2017-18 he paid more than $20,000 in bribes for inside information from an Amazon employee. The inside info gave him a competitive advantage for his own business, and he also made money by selling some of the insider information to others. Nuhanovic communicated with that insider via an encrypted message system. He also recruited other Amazon employees who also accepted bribes.
The bribes assisted Nuhanovic with his scheme to continue selling counterfeit DVDs, by using legitimate invoices provided by insiders as a basis for his forged invoices – ones he used to claim that he was not selling counterfeits. He similarly used other companies’ invoices so he could continue selling dietary supplements from unapproved suppliers – something that put customers at risk.
Nuhanovic also used the inside information to help clients get reinstated, and to gin up false allegations about competitors. One competitor was suspended from the Amazon Marketplace because of a false intellectual property complaint filed by Nuhanovic and coconspirators. The coconspirators also sought confidential information on customers who posted bad reviews so that they could harass them.
"It was not good enough for Mr. Nuhanovic to cheat the public by selling counterfeit goods” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Instead, he and his coconspirators worked to deceive unwitting customers and further enrich themselves by bribing Amazon employees to assist in the scheme. I appreciate the work of our investigators and partners to put an end to this scheme.”
In asking the court to impose a two-year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Hinman wrote to the court, “Nuhanovic and the co-conspirators’ crimes hurt Amazon and its users by violating basic principles of secure commerce upon which everyone relies. As our economy’s dependence on digital storefronts, platforms, and data continues to grow, almost every business entrusts its employees with valuable information—from key cards to private customer information—and the law must impose consequences on those who seek to wantonly violate that trust for personal profit.”
Nuhanovic also admits cheating on his taxes. In 2019 he claimed his company had gross receipts of $826,510 for tax year 2018. The actual gross receipts figure was $1,446,540. He failed to pay $125,050 in taxes for 2018 and an additional $35,403 in 2019.
Nuhanovic pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and Filing a False Tax Return on September 28, 2022.
Today Judge Jones ordered him to forfeit $100,000 as proceeds of the conspiracy, and to pay $160,453 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
One defendant in this case, Rohit Kadimisetty, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to ten months in prison and a $50,000 fine. Kristen Leccese and Joseph Nilsen have pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing on June 9, 2023. The remaining defendant, Ephraim Rosenberg, is scheduled for trial on May 15, 2023.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.