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Amazon Launches New ‘Counterfeit Crimes Unit’ to Fight Fraud
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In recent years, the sale of counterfeit products on e-commerce platforms has fallen under intense scrutiny from consumers, brands, and regulators alike. In its latest effort to combat the growing problem, Amazon announced in June that it is launching a new “Counterfeit Crimes Unit” to crack down on fraud and counterfeit items sold on its marketplace.
The global fraud-fighting team is made up of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts, tasked with identifying those who attempt to sell knock-off products, aid law enforcement officials in prosecuting counterfeiters to the fullest extent, and working with brands to assist in their civil litigation suits against retail scammers.
The launch of the Counterfeit Crimes Unit is welcoming news for both brands and customers, and also serves as a warning to counterfeiters worldwide. It is hugely important for established brands, specifically, to protect their intellectual property, and preserve their brand identity and customer experience. It also provides added protection for Amazon shoppers, many of whom have fallen victim to purchasing counterfeit, unsafe, or expired items through the marketplace.
“Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon. “We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, and we applaud the law enforcement authorities who are already part of this fight. We urge governments to give these authorities the investigative tools, funding, and resources they need to bring criminal counterfeiters to justice because criminal enforcement—through prosecution and other disruption measures such as freezing assets—is one of the most effective ways to stop them.”
This is not Amazon’s first foray into its fight against fraud. The company stated that in 2019 alone, it invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees working to prevent fraud and abuse, including counterfeits. Amazon reported that its efforts had blocked over 2.5 million suspected “bad actor” accounts before they were even able to make one sale, and had blocked more than 6 billion “suspected bad listings.”
One of Amazon’s existing anti-fraud efforts is Project Zero, an invite-only program launched in April 2019. The program offers various tools that enable brands to protect their intellectual property, authentic products, and detect counterfeits. The first tool is automated protections that scan billions of listings each day for fraudulent use of a brand’s logo, trademarks, and other data. The second tool is self-service counterfeit removal, allowing brands to remove counterfeit listings themselves. The third tool is product serialization, where Amazon verifies an item’s authenticity before it reaches the customer, for a small, per-unit cost to the brand.
The launch of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit comes on the heels of the Trump administration flagging Amazon marketplaces in Canada, France, Germany, India, and the U.K. as “notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy” in a report which was released in April.
A few months earlier, in January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a report on combating counterfeits with recommendations that were to be adopted by Amazon and other online marketplaces, such as Walmart, eBay, and Wish.
Amazon is taking its crackdown against counterfeiters very seriously, and brands can take comfort in knowing that Amazon has their back against these bad actors. Learn more about how you can proactively protect your business against various types of Amazon black hat tactics, and don’t counterfeiters sabotage your company.
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