Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit seeks to fight knockoff product listings

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Amazon products are generally pretty reputable. However, the e-commerce giant also has some bad apples. That includes sellers who try to sell knockoff goods—either blatantly or stealthily. In either case, it’s an issue for Amazon because it tarnishes its reputation. For consumers, it’s an even bigger issue.

To fight back against counterfeit products on its website, Amazon is launching a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit. The team is made up of “former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts” who aim to “go on the offensive” against sellers of counterfeit goods. The approach takes things a step further than simply blocking bad listings.

Amazon Cracks Down

In recent years, Amazon has started working more frequently with law enforcement to report and prosecute those trying to sell counterfeit goods in its marketplace. Its new team will do that, but on a larger, more aggressive scale.

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Amazon’s vice president of customer trust and partner support, Dharmesh Mehta, says, “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.”

He adds, “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.”

According to Amazon, its new Counterfeit Crimes Unit will make it easier to file civil lawsuits. It will also help the e-commerce giant aid brands with their own investigations. The company says that it “welcomes the partnership of brands and law enforcement in the shared objective of stopping counterfeiters and holding them accountable.”

At this point, it’s unclear what such partnerships will look like in action.

Growing Issue

The Bezos-led e-commerce titan is no stranger to battling fraud. In fact, the company claims that it spent more than $500 million in 2019 alone to do just that. Amazon claims to have over 8,000 employees working on its anti-counterfeit efforts. As for fraudulent listings, more than six billion were removed last year alone. Amazon also blocked 2.5 million suspicious accounts last year before they could make any sales.

If those numbers seem costly, it’s because they are. However, the cost of hosting a marketplace laden with counterfeit goods is even steeper. Due to the growing number of third-party sellers trying to list knockoff goods, many manufacturers have pulled their genuine product listings from Amazon.

Nike is one of them. The athletic apparel company stopped selling its products on Amazon, citing counterfeit products as a contributing factor in its decision to do so.

Meanwhile, the problem is also growing in Amazon’s international markets. The Trump administration recently placed five of the company’s foreign websites (Canada, France, Germany, India, and the U.K.) on its annual “notorious markets” list. That obviously spells trouble for Amazon.

With any luck, the new Counterfeit Crimes Unit will help the company restore some order to its marketplace. The serious threat of legal action might just be enough to scare off the majority of would-be scammers—or at least repel them to another site instead.

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