Sweetwater business owner pleads guilty to price-fixing DVDs on Amazon Marketplace
A Sweetwater business owner has pleaded guilty to price-fixing DVDs and Blu-ray discs sold on the Amazon Marketplace.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Sweetwater business owner pleaded guilty to price-fixing DVDs and Blu-ray discs sold on the Amazon Marketplace, officials said.
David Camp was charged with conspiring with others to price fix the DVDs and Blu-ray discs that went on sale from at least May 2018 until October 2019, according to court documents filed in Knoxville. Camp was the first individual to be charged and the first individual to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation.
Camp operated a virtual storefront on the Amazon Marketplace platform with a business address located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, according to documents.
“American consumers deserve the benefits of competitive pricing, whether they’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores or in an online marketplace,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said. “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.”
Camp and his co-conspirators reportedly agreed to raise and maintain the prices of the products, officials said. The group earned somewhere between $500,000 to $1 million, documents stated.
Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that enables third-party vendors to sell new or used products along with Amazon’s own products and offerings.
“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.”
Acting Executive Special Agent in Charge Steven Stuller of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General said activities, such as, collusion, bid-rigging and market allocation do not promote an environment to open competitive, which harms the consumer.
A criminal violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a one million dollar criminal fine. The maximum fine may be increased twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims, officials said.
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.
For more information concerning price-fixing or other anticompetitive conduct through Amazon Marketplace, contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office at 312-984-7200, the Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit their website.
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