Amazon Going After Counterfeiters

The retail giant "goes on the offensive" and launches a Counterfeit Crimes Unit

Amazon is already working to keep fake products out of its online store, but this more aggressive approach adds yet another layer of protection to your ecommerce experience.

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Amazon hosts millions of products listed by hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers and not all of them are legit. Now the company is ramping up anti-fraud measures, launching a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit that will "go on the offensive and hold counterfeiters accountable for their crimes."

How Amazon protects you: While this group is new, Amazon's been tackling fake products on its platform for years. It reports that there are more than a half-billion dollars and 8,000 employees devoted to the effort. Those effects accelerated after, in 2018, Amazon admitted to shareholders that the company could be held liable for its growing counterfeit product problem and it was concerned about its ability to combat the issue.

Inside the Unit: Including former prosecutors, investigators, and data analysts, the new team sounds more like a new edition of Law and Order, than a retail company investigation unit. However, Amazon needs these heavy hitters because some of the product fraud it sees comes not from individual bad actors, but criminal networks.

Third-party sellers on Amazon: 300,000

Products for sale on Amazon: 350 million

Amazon's take: In a statement released by Amazon, company Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Dharmesh Mehta said: "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."

What will they do: Amazon said the Counterfeit Crimes Unit will pursue civil litigation and work with brands to help stem the flow of the counterfeit products (think fake Gucci bags). Amazon is also hoping to get some help from local law enforcement around the world (many of these products come from China) to pursue these counterfeiters by, for instance, freezing local assets.

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