Amazon “seized and destroyed” 2 million counterfeit products in 2020

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Several Amazon trailers lined up outside a shipping center.
Enlarge / Amazon trailers backed into bays at a distribution heart in Miami, Florida, in August 2019.

Amazon “seized and destroyed” over 2 million counterfeit merchandise that sellers despatched to Amazon warehouses in 2020 and “blocked greater than 10 billion suspected unhealthy listings earlier than they had been printed in our retailer,” the corporate stated in its first “Brand Protection Report.”

In 2020, “we seized and destroyed greater than 2 million merchandise despatched to our achievement facilities and that we detected as counterfeit earlier than being despatched to a buyer,” Amazon’s report stated. “In circumstances the place counterfeit merchandise are in our achievement facilities, we separate the stock and destroy these merchandise so they don’t seem to be resold elsewhere within the provide chain,” the report additionally stated.

Third-party sellers can even ship merchandise on to shoppers as an alternative of utilizing Amazon’s transport system. The two million fakes present in Amazon achievement facilities would solely account for counterfeit merchandise from sellers utilizing the “Fulfilled by Amazon” service.

The counterfeit downside acquired worse over the previous yr. “All through the pandemic, we have seen elevated makes an attempt by unhealthy actors to commit fraud and provide counterfeit merchandise,” Amazon VP Dharmesh Mehta wrote in a blog post yesterday.

Counterfeiting is a longstanding problem on Amazon. Different issues on Amazon that harm consumers embody the sale of dangerous merchandise, fake reviews, faulty third-party items, and the passing of bribes from unscrupulous sellers to unscrupulous Amazon workers and contractors. One US appeals court docket dominated in 2019 that Amazon could be held responsible for faulty third-party items, however Amazon has won different comparable circumstances. Amazon is once more arguing that it shouldn’t be held chargeable for a faulty third-party product in a case earlier than the Texas Supreme Courtroom that includes a severely injured toddler.

Amazon tries to reassure legit sellers

Amazon’s new report was meant to reassure legit sellers that their merchandise will not be counterfeited. Whereas counterfeits stay an issue for unsuspecting Amazon clients, the e-commerce large stated that “fewer than zero.01 p.c of all merchandise bought on Amazon acquired a counterfeit grievance from clients” in 2020. After all, folks might purchase and use counterfeit merchandise with out ever realizing they’re pretend or with out reporting it to Amazon, in order that share might not seize the extent of the issue.

Amazon’s report on counterfeits describes in depth techniques and processes to find out which sellers can do enterprise on Amazon. Whereas Amazon has argued in court docket that it isn’t chargeable for what third events promote on its platform, the corporate is monitoring sellers in an effort to take care of credibility with consumers and bonafide sellers.

Amazon stated it “invested over $700 million and employed greater than 10,000 folks to guard our retailer from fraud and abuse” in 2020, including:

We leverage a mix of superior machine studying capabilities and knowledgeable human investigators to guard our retailer proactively from unhealthy actors and unhealthy merchandise. We’re consistently innovating to remain forward of unhealthy actors and their makes an attempt to avoid our controls. In 2020, we prevented over 6 million makes an attempt to create new promoting accounts, stopping unhealthy actors earlier than they printed a single product on the market, and blocked greater than 10 billion suspected unhealthy listings earlier than they had been printed in our retailer.

“That is an escalating battle with criminals that try and promote counterfeits, and the one technique to completely cease counterfeiters is to carry them accountable by means of litigation within the court docket system and thru felony prosecution,” Amazon additionally stated. “In 2020, we established a brand new Counterfeit Crimes Unit to construct and refer circumstances to regulation enforcement, undertake unbiased investigations or joint investigations with manufacturers, and pursue civil litigation towards counterfeiters.”

Amazon stated it now “report[s] all confirmed counterfeiters to regulation enforcement businesses in Canada, China, the European Union, UK, and US.” Amazon additionally urged governments to “enhance prosecution of counterfeiters, enhance sources for regulation enforcement preventing counterfeiters, and incarcerate these criminals globally.”

Stricter seller-verification system

Amazon stated it had a “new reside video and bodily deal with verification” system in place in 2020 wherein “Amazon connects one-on-one with potential sellers by means of a video chat or in particular person at an Amazon workplace to confirm sellers’ identities and government-issued documentation.” Amazon stated it additionally “verifies new and current sellers’ addresses by sending data together with a novel code to the vendor’s deal with.”

Most new makes an attempt to register as a vendor had been apparently fraudulent, as Amazon stated that “solely 6 p.c of tried new vendor account registrations handed our strong verification processes and listed merchandise.” Total, Amazon “stopped over 6 million makes an attempt to create a promoting account earlier than they had been in a position to publish a single itemizing on the market” in 2020, greater than double “the two.5 million makes an attempt we stopped in 2019,” Amazon stated.

The verification course of is not sufficient by itself to cease all new fraudulent sellers, so Amazon stated it performs “steady monitoring” of sellers to establish new dangers. “If we establish a nasty actor, we instantly shut their account, withhold funds disbursement, and decide if this new data brings different associated accounts into suspicion. We additionally decide if the case warrants civil or felony prosecution and report the unhealthy actor to regulation enforcement,” Amazon stated.

Amazon screens product element modifications for fraud

One downside we wrote about a few months ago includes “bait-and-switch critiques” wherein sellers trick Amazon into displaying critiques for unrelated merchandise to get to the highest of Amazon’s search outcomes. In a single case, a $23 drone with 6,400 critiques achieved a five-star common ranking solely as a result of it had 1000’s of critiques for honey. Sooner or later, the product itemizing had modified from a meals merchandise to a tech product, however the critiques for the meals product remained. After a purging of the outdated critiques, that same product page now lists simply 348 scores at a three.6-star common.

Amazon is making an attempt to stop recurrences of this downside, saying in its new report that it scans “greater than 5 billion tried modifications to product element pages each day for indicators of potential abuse.”

Amazon additionally supplies self-service tools to corporations to assist them block counterfeits of their merchandise. Amazon’s report stated that 18,000 manufacturers have enrolled in “Venture Zero,” which “supplies manufacturers with unprecedented energy by giving them the power to straight take away listings from our retailer.” This system additionally has an elective product serialization function that lets sellers put distinctive codes on their merchandise or packaging.

The self-service device solely accounts for a tiny share of blocked listings. “For each 1 itemizing eliminated by a model by means of our self-service counterfeit elimination device, our automated protections eliminated greater than 600 listings by means of scaled know-how and machine studying that proactively addresses potential counterfeits and stops these listings from showing in our retailer,” Amazon stated.

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