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Amazon takes major step against counterfeiters

Amazon is creating a new team dedicated to preventing the sale of fraudulent items on its platform.

The e-commerce giant has established a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit, dedicated to bringing counterfeiters that violate the law and Amazon’s policies by listing phony products in its store to justice. The global, multi-disciplinary is team composed of former federal prosecutors, as well as investigators and data analysts.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit will investigate cases where a bad actor has attempted to evade Amazon’s systems and listed a counterfeit item in violation of Amazon’s policies. The unit will mine Amazon’s data, cull information from external resources such as payment service providers and open source intelligence, and leverage on-the-ground assets in its investigations. It will also work with brands in joint or independent investigations, and aid law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters.

Amazon says its first objective is to prevent a counterfeit product from ever being listed in its store, and that its existing anti-counterfeit programs have ensured that 99.9% of all Amazon products viewed by customers did not have a valid counterfeit complaint. In 2019, Amazon invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud, including counterfeit items. 

According to Amazon, its anti-counterfeiting effort blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019 and over 2.5 million suspected “bad actor” accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale.

 “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, VP, 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.”

Amazon has engaged in a number of efforts to prevent and punish sellers of counterfeit goods on its site. Recent examples include filing a joint lawsuit against a New York-based counterfeiter with Italian luxury brand Valentino and supporting 3M legal action against Amazon sellers who allegedly sold counterfeit N95 respirators.

Amazon and other online retailers have been coming under increased pressure from the U.S. government to take a more active role in preventing fraudulent and counterfeit transactions from occurring on their platforms.

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