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Amazon Introduces a New Counterfeit Crimes Unit

July 20, 2020
With the goal of thwarting “bad actor” counterfeiters that try to use its platform, the e-tailer has established a new unit focused on making that happen.

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On track to surpass $52 billion in gross merchandise sales volume by 2023, Amazon Business, the huge e-tailer’s B2B arm, is a popular marketplace for both buyers and sellers of electronics. A potential target for counterfeiters, the company just introduced a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit for its B2B and B2C divisions.

According to Amazon, the new unit will help bring counterfeiters to justice that violate the law and the e-tailer’s policies by listing counterfeit products in its store. A global, multi-disciplinary team composed of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators and data analysts, Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit is part of the firm’s ongoing mission to drive counterfeits to zero.

“Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law,” said Amazon’s Dharmesh Mehta, in a press release, “regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located.”

Eliminating the Bad Actors

In Forbes, Patrick Moorhead points out that Amazon has been under pressure by sellers, consumers and governmental agencies to fight against counterfeiters. “These bad actors steal revenue from a legitimate business and provide the customer with a knock-off product vs. what they intended to purchase,” Moorhead writes.

“Many credible companies that compete against counterfeit products on Amazon will further lower prices to compete with knock offs,” he continues. “Often these businesses are already operating on slim margins and by dropping prices to compete, it can be extremely detrimental to the company.”

Here’s How it Works

Amazon says its first objective is to prevent a counterfeit from ever being listed in its store, and that its comprehensive proactive anti-counterfeit programs ensures that 99.9% of all its products viewed by customers did not have a valid counterfeit complaint.

Furthermore, the company says that in 2019, it invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud, including counterfeit. These efforts have blocked more than 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019, the company said in a press release, and blocked “over 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale.”

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit will investigate cases where someone has attempted to evade its systems and listed a counterfeit in violation of the e-tailer’s policies. The Counterfeit Crimes Unit is being tasked with:

  • Mining Amazon’s data
  • Culling information from external resources (i.e., payment service providers and open source intelligence)
  • Leveraging on-the-ground assets to connect the dots between targets
  • Helping Amazon more effectively pursue civil litigation against bad actors
  • Working with brands in joint or independent investigations
  • Aiding law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters

“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 Mehta.

“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,” Mehta continued. “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.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.