Amazon is suing dozens of affiliate marketers for allegedly impersonating the company in text messages, in order to generate fraudulent traffic.
“Defendants are engaged in a widespread, fraudulent marketing scheme that bombards victims with unauthorized text messages that abuse Amazon’s brand to generate traffic,” the company alleges in a complaint filed this week in federal court in Seattle. “Defendants then profit from fees for this fraudulently generated traffic paid to them by affiliate marketing networks and advertisers.”
The ecommerce company's claims include false advertising and trademark infringement.
Amazon says the affiliates use its name in text messages in order to “entice victims to click through to a third-party advertiser’s website.”
Some of the texts falsely state that recipients have been awarded credits to their account, or merchandise such as a new Macbook Pro, according to the complaint.
The messages also contain shortened links, which allegedly direct people to survey pages that typically include the Amazon logo and phrases like, “Amazon Shopper Survey,” or “Dear Amazon User,” according to the complaint.
People who take the survey are then told they can claim a reward and presented with yet another link, or series of links, that eventually take them to a page where they can purchase the item they were told they had won, according to the complaint.
Amazon says it doesn't yet know the names of the defendants, but has identified web-hosting companies and domain registrars used by the alleged scammers, and is seeking a court order that would allow it to subpoena identifying information from those companies.
Amazon has brought similar lawsuits in the past against affiliate marketers that engaged in similar schemes, but through email.