Amazon Sellers Are Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top

An emerging black market offers Amazon sellers pricey ways to cheat the marketplace and mislead customers

Zak Tebbal for BuzzFeed News

We have investigated many articles about Amazon Sellers Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top!

Some sellers who employ black hat tactics say they’re reluctant to do so, but don’t know how else to keep up with their competitors. A seller who uses Howard Thai’s suite of services on and asked to remain anonymous told BuzzFeed News that he’s been using different versions of black hat techniques since 2014 when Amazon’s marketplace became inundated with dirty selling tactics. That’s around when he said he noticed people using Amazon’s messaging system to send emails to shoppers offering free products in exchange for reviews and learned about offices full of people in Bangladesh who paid to write fake reviews.

“Everybody is doing it,” he said. “People have to survive, so of course, they’re going to do it. … They’re like, 

‘Why the hell am I spending money on ads and I’m not on page one?’”

The seller said that without Seller Mafia he would barely break even on sales because the cost of advertising on Amazon is so high. He said he spends about 30% of sales on advertising. He currently makes about $3 million a year in net profits, but before he used Thai’s services he was making $73,000 a year.

“They’re upsetting me,” he said about sellers who depend on black hat tactics on Amazon. “You always want to do things the right way.”

The following article was written
By Leticia Miranda
BuzzFeed News Reporter

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For the millions of third-party sellers on Amazon’s marketplace, maintaining a successful business is a constant battle to rank high in search results, collect positive product reviews, and keep up with Amazon when it releases its own branded versions of sellers’ most successful products. This intense competition has led to the emergence of a secretive, lucrative black market where agents peddle “black hat” services, sometimes obtained by bribing Amazon employees, that purportedly give marketplace sellers an advantage over their rivals, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The most prominent black hat companies for US Amazon sellers offer ways to manipulate Amazon’s ranking system to promote products, protect accounts from disciplinary actions, and crush competitors. Sometimes, these black hat companies bribe corporate Amazon employees to leak information from the company’s wiki pages and business reports, which they then resell to marketplace sellers for steep prices. One black hat company charges as much as $10,000 a month to help Amazon sellers appear at the top of product search results. Other tactics to promote sellers’ products include removing negative reviews from product pages and exploiting technical loopholes on Amazon’s site to lift products’ overall sales rankings. These services make it harder for Amazon sellers who abide by the company’s terms of service to succeed in the marketplace, and sellers who rely on these tactics mislead customers and undermine trust in Amazon’s products.

“The extent to which sellers go to game the system, and the number of resources they devote to doing it, [are] a testament to how Amazon’s recommendation and ranking algorithms shape consumption,” Renee DiResta, director of research at cybersecurity company New Knowledge, told BuzzFeed News. “While Amazon repeats that ‘even one fake review is too many,’ the fact remains that manipulative tactics from dishonest sellers make honest business owners afraid that they can’t remain competitive. And when manipulation is successful, it’s Amazon’s customers who are the victims.” “When manipulation is successful, it’s Amazon’s customers who are the victims.”  

This black hat economy continues to elude Amazon’s detection, despite the company’s efforts to better combat fraud on its site. Although shoppers tend to trust Amazon, the site has long struggled to deal with scams on its marketplace, which include secret organized fake review rings and get-rich-quick schemes that scam sellers out of thousands of dollars. Some third-party Amazon sellers told BuzzFeed News that the use of black hat tactics has become so widespread that when one seller is banned for employing these methods, another seller doing the same thing pops up in their place.

Amazon declined to comment on the specific black hat consulting firms named in this story, but it told BuzzFeed News that these “bad actors make up a fraction of activity” on the site.

The rise of black hat consultants comes as Amazon’s marketplace continues to become a more significant piece of its retail business. Amazon’s third-party sellers now make up 58% of total sales on the platform, at $160 billion, compared to $117 billion in sales by the company’s own retail business, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. But as that third-party marketplace grows, so does the fierce competition among its millions of sellers across the world.

Davide Nicolucci, founder and director of the Amazon marketing consulting firm Growth Hack, has been critical of black hat tactics on Amazon. He told BuzzFeed News that the marketplace has become so competitive and fraught with black hat manipulation that some sellers feel compelled to break the rules and employ these tactics.

“Amazon is so slow in responding to cases, by the time Amazon resolves your issue, you’ve lost so much money you might as well do black hat,” he said. “It’s crazy. It’s a war.” “It’s crazy. It’s a war.”  

While Amazon has made some efforts to police manipulation of its marketplace, the business of black hat consultants continues to prosper, largely hiding in plain sight. A simple search on YouTube for “super URL” brings up dozens of tutorials on how to manipulate Amazon’s ranking system by writing a few words into a product URL that tricks the algorithm into believing real shoppers are finding a specific item through popular keyword searches and adding it to their shopping carts and wish lists. Amazon black hat consultants frequently speak at Amazon seller conferences and events, and some run their own private groups on Facebook, which is where most Amazon sellers connect with one another. For sellers, buying black hat services can be as simple as sending a message on Facebook or attending an online webinar.

One such site that markets black hat services to Amazon sellers, AmzPandora, offers clients a menu of services, which range in price from $1 for a single thumbs-up on a product review to $10,000 to reinstate a suspended account, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The site disappeared after BuzzFeed News contacted the site’s owner, a China-based consultant who goes by the name John Zhu, who operates another black hat tactics site called This site also went offline before publication.

AmzPandora’s services ranged from small tasks to more ambitious strategies to rank a product higher using Amazon’s algorithm. While it was online, it offered to ping internal contacts at Amazon for $500 to get information about why a seller’s account had been suspended, as well as advice on how to appeal the suspension. For $300, the company promised to remove an unspecified number of negative reviews on a listing within three to seven days, which would help increase the overall star rating for a product. For $1.50, the company offered a service to fool the algorithm into believing a product had been added to a shopper’s cart or wish list by writing a super URL. And for $1,200, an Amazon seller could purchase a “frequently bought together” spot on another marketplace product’s page that would appear for two weeks, which AmzPandora promised would lead to a 10% increase in sales. Amazon declined to specifically comment on AmzPandora and the services it offered marketplace sellers.

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Gold IRA Rollover Benefits

Safeguarding your retirement savings is more essential than ever before in these economic times. With the threat of the US dollar and hyperinflation, individuals are currently seeing their retirement assets lose value at a pace that is historical. The great news is that those who’re investing in precious metals, like gold and silver, aren’t only securing their assets, they are also seeing a positive Return on investment in a lot of cases especially those who invested in Bitcoin.

A physical advantage is something such as property, gold, or silver bullion while a monetary asset is something such as having money in a savings account, bonds, Bitcoins or stocks.

Like real estate, have suffered as well. Metals such as silver and gold have retained their value, but have risen in value in cases although among. Silver has some advantages that you need to consider also while it’s true that gold is the investment choice of both and popular. About investing in silver, the best thing is its value per unit to other metals. Silver is accessible to investors than metals that are higher priced. This implies that you could invest the same amount of cash into silver, but have many more options with regards to selling and buying because of its lower price per unit.

You make certain you’re always in the position to make the most of any increase in value of both by having a Silver and Gold Rollover IRA. The way to Avoid Tax Penalties by Rolling Over Existing IRAs to a Gold and Silver IRA. Among the biggest concerns, you can have about starting a Gold and Silver Rollover IRA is that the fact that you do not want to have your current IRA loses its tax-deferred status. The great news is that a qualified valuable metals custodian can assist you to Rollover your current resources into a Gold and Silver IRA without suffering any tax penalties. At that, the end, converting your existing assets and IRA into a Gold and Silver or Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin Rollover IRA is the safest and most secure method of safeguarding your retirement savings from various financial factors which may cause major financial losses. Doing a rollover incorrectly may cause you to eliminate your tax-deferred status and result in heavy penalties that may harm your savings just as badly as any financial turmoil.

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Make Money the Easy Way

Updated May 13, 2020

Changes in health services and medical technology accelerated by COVID-19

A report called “Global Healthcare post COVID: Who benefits?” was put together by teams of health-care analysts at Jefferies’ offices in the U.S., Europe, India, Japan and Australia, and provided to the firm’s clients May 11.

If you want to invest in individual companies to take advantage of long-term post-pandemic trends, this is probably the time to make your moves, as equity markets are forward-looking.

What follows are the analysts’ expected winners and losers among stocks traded in the U.S.

Potential post-COVID-19 winners

The Jefferies analysts listed these 12 U.S.-traded companies as “winners” in the post-pandemic environment:

Company Ticker Jefferies’ industry group Jefferies’ rating Closing price – May 11 Jefferies’ price target Implied 12-month upside potential
Perrigo Co. PLC PRGO, -0.72% Pharmaceuticals Hold $53.40 $51 -4%
Amedisys Inc. AMED, +1.87% Health Services Buy $178.03 $210 18%
Encompass Health Corp. EHC, -2.97% Health Services Buy $68.36 $100 46%
LHC Group Inc. LHCG, -0.34% Health Services Buy $142.86 $150 5%
Centene Corp. CNC, -3.08% Health Services Buy $67.54 $85 26%
Cerner Corp. CERN, -1.91% Health Services Buy $68.44 $90 32%
Teladoc Health Inc. TDOC, +2.19% Health Services Hold $190.62 $151 -21%
DexCom Inc. DXCM, -0.87% Medtech Buy $421.36 $369 -12%
Hologic Inc. HOLX, -1.04% Medtech Buy $52.81 $64 21%
Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. Class A BIO, -1.41% Medtech Buy $470.35 $500 6%
Danaher Corp. DHR, -0.23% Medtech Buy $161.71 $185 14%
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. TMO, +0.71% Medtech Hold $340.39 $350 3%

Read More

Make Money the Easy Way


Having a good selection of investments is good, but having too big a selection can intimidate investors, especially if you’re just starting out. If you’re looking for a simple way to invest for your retirement, you don’t need any more new investments. You just need ones you can trust.


For many investors, that one-stop retirement investment was the target-date retirement fund. But during the market meltdown, target fund investors were betrayed by what turned out to be more aggressive investing than some expected. Now, the big question for those looking at target funds is whether they’ve fixed their inherent problems — and whether they’ll be safe the next time the market swoons.

Sounding the All-Clear
The good news for target fund investors is that after the long bull run in stocks, many target funds have finally recouped the losses they suffered in 2008 and early 2009. According to Morningstar, target funds aimed at those retiring in 2010 have risen by 5% between October 2007 and mid-February 2011.

For a long time, though, it looked like target funds would prove to be one of the colossal failures of the lost decade. The idea behind them was simple: tailor an asset allocation strategy based on a person’s age or expected retirement date, and adjust the allocations over the years to grow more conservative as the fund approached its target date.

Given that one of the fundamental tenets of financial planning is that you should invest less aggressively as you get older, many target fund shareholders made the mistake of assuming that with just two years left to go before their target date, 2010 target funds would have little or no exposure to the stock market. But as it turned out, many funds had relatively high percentages of their assets in stocks, and therefore the funds suffered big losses as the stock market collapsed.

Are They Safe?
In response to the controversy, many target fund companies, including Schwab (SCHW), took steps to reduce stock allocations in their target funds. Others, including Principal Financial (PFG) and ING (ING), expanded their funds to add alternative investments like Gold, commodities, real estate, and even hedge-fund-style investments.

In judging the quality of a target fund, low expenses are essential. That’s why Morningstar awarded top ratings to target funds from T. Rowe Price (TROW), American Funds, and Vanguard, while hitting higher-cost providers AllianceBernstein (AB) and Oppenheimer Holdings’ (OPY) OppenheimerFunds unit with low rankings.

But in the end, the key component of whether a target fund is safe enough for you depends on its unique way of allocating your money over time. Some companies believe that even retirees need substantial stock allocations in order to make sure their money continues to grow throughout their golden years. Others take less aggressive stances on the assumption that if you need more growth, you can get it on your own.


The Best Way to Make Easy Money
In fact, given how easy it is to use exchange-traded funds to set up your own asset allocation strategy, coming up with a tailor-made allocation might be even better than relying on a target fund. With expenses on many ETFs from Vanguard, Schwab, and BlackRock (BLK) at rock-bottom levels, the cost isn’t a big issue with asset allocation. And with many brokers offering their ETFs at no commission, you can adjust your allocation over time without worrying about paying an arm and a leg to do it.

With thousands of stocks and funds littering the investment landscape, it’s easy to understand how target funds would be attractive to novice investors. But with a little extra effort, you can get exactly the exposure to various types of investments that you want without worrying about what your fund manager might do wrong. That’s the best way to make sure you’ll hit your target for financial success.

By Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

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