The Department of Justice announced yesterday that a second e-commerce company and its top executive agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing for customized promotional products including wristbands. The press release stated:
The investigation has revealed that the conspirators used text messaging and other online messaging platforms to reach and implement their illegal agreements. Specifically, the defendants and their co-conspirators agreed, from as early as June 2014 until June 2016, to fix the prices of customized promotional products sold online, including wristbands. In addition to agreeing to plead guilty, Custom Wristbands has agreed to pay a $409,342 criminal fine.
The full press release can be read here.
The developments were also covered in an industry publication, the Advertising Specialty Institute, here. The article noted that in early August, Zaappaaz Inc., which has done business as both a supplier and distributor under names including WB Promotions Inc., along with its president Azim Makanojiya, opted to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices for customized promotional products sold online. The investigation is continuing.
It is worth noting that prosecutors have been able to uncover and prosecute this scheme by recovering evidence such as text messages and other messaging platforms. The Antitrust Division has the tools and know how to recover electronic footprints from virtually any form of electronic media. And good old fashion face-to face meetings, as there were also apparently in this case, can also leave a trail of evidence.
Thanks for reading.