A lawsuit accuses Amazon of enabling a West Virginia man to spy on an underage Brazilian girl with a hidden camera.
The device, which resembles a clothes hook, was purchased from Amazon and used to record the girl.
The suit alleges that Amazon failed to remove the camera from its platform despite inspecting it three times and knowing the potential harm it could cause.
The criminal case against the West Virginia man
Darrel Wells of West Virginia is accused of secretly recording an underage Brazilian foreign exchange student he was hosting at his home in 2021.
He allegedly used a camera disguised as a clothes hook to film her in her private spaces like the bathroom and bedroom. According to prosecutors, he possessed 600 images of child pornography. Wells is charged with 10 counts of criminal invasion of privacy and child porn.
The lawsuit against Amazon by the underage girl
While the criminal case is underway, the underage girl is also suing Amazon. She claims Wells bought the hidden camera on Amazon.
The seller allegedly sold the camera as a part of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. According to Amazon, products sold in the FBA program go under an inspection process. The company, according to its own policy, looks to see if products meet restrictions, are in good shape and to see if they meet safety standards.
Amazon tried to get the case dismissed back in March. However, a judge ruled against the company's motion — saying Amazon can't act surprised when a buyer is using the product for its advertised purpose. She's suing for unspecified damages and is looking for a jury trial.
Are hidden cameras still on Amazon's website?
The specific clothes hook hidden camera from the lawsuit is no longer on Amazon's website. In fact, going to the link will bring up a "page not found" error.
However, there are a number of products just like it still available on Amazon's marketplace. You can bring up several results just by searching "clothes hook spy camera" or "clothes hook hidden camera."
Just a quick search of "hidden camera" gets results like cameras hidden in smoke detectors, alarm clocks, and phone chargers. They look exactly like their non-camera counterparts. You can't even tell some feature a camera.
We reached out to Amazon for a comment on this article, but a company spokesperson declined to comment.
Kurt's key takeaways
It is absolutely appalling to see products like these hidden cameras on Amazon. While there are innocent reasons to buy a hidden camera, the bad outweighs the good here. The fact that some of these hidden cameras pass Amazon's security checks is a head scratcher to me. What concerns me even more is how undetectable some of these cameras are. A few of them are the size of pinholes and would be nearly impossible to spot without a very close look. The fact that they can look like any object in your bedroom or bathroom concerns me even more.
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