Amazon’s Enforcement Failures Leave Open a Back Door to Banned Goods — Some Sold and Shipped by Amazon Itself

The online giant bans products related to drugs, spying and weapons, but news outlet The Markeup found plenty for sale; one of the items bought on the site left a grim trail of overdoses. From a report: Amazon bans pill presses used to make prescription drugs. They’re included among 38 pages of third-party seller rules and prohibitions for its U.S. marketplace. Yet an investigation by The Markup found that Amazon fails to properly enforce that list, allowing third-party sellers to put up and sell banned items. Alongside its third-party marketplace, Amazon sells products to consumers directly, and The Markup found it was also selling banned items itself, revealing cracks in the largely automated purchasing system that feeds its massive product catalog. We found nearly 100 listings for products that the company bans under its categories of drugs, theft, spying, weapons and other dangerous items, a virtual back alley where mostly third-party sellers peddle prohibited goods, some of which are used for illicit and potentially criminal activities.

The Markup filled a shopping cart with a bounty of banned items: marijuana bongs, “dab kits” used to inhale cannabis concentrates, “crackers” that can be used to get high on nitrous oxide, and compounds that reviews showed were used as injectable drugs. We found two pill presses and a die used to shape tablets into a Transformers logo, which is among the characters that have been found imprinted on club drugs such as ecstasy. We found listings for prohibited tools for picking locks and jimmying open car doors. And we found AR-15 gun parts and accessories that Amazon specifically bans. Almost three dozen listings for banned items were sold by third parties but available to ship from Amazon’s own warehouses. At least four were listed as “Amazon’s Choice.” The phrase “ships from and sold by” appeared beneath the buy button of five of the banned items we found, which two former employees confirmed means those products are, in fact, sold by Amazon. In addition, one of the sellers we were able to reach also confirmed it sold the items to Amazon.

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