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

Several Amazon trailers lined up outside a shipping center.
Enlarge / Amazon trailers backed into bays at a distribution middle 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 have been revealed in our retailer,” the corporate mentioned in its first “Brand Protection Report.”

In 2020, “we seized and destroyed greater than 2 million merchandise despatched to our success facilities and that we detected as counterfeit earlier than being despatched to a buyer,” Amazon’s report mentioned. “In instances the place counterfeit merchandise are in our success 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 mentioned.

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

The counterfeit downside received worse over the previous 12 months. “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 embrace 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 related instances. Amazon is once more arguing that it shouldn’t be held accountable for a faulty third-party product in a case earlier than the Texas Supreme Courtroom that entails a severely injured toddler.

Amazon tries to reassure legit sellers

Amazon’s new report was meant to reassure official sellers that their merchandise will not be counterfeited. Whereas counterfeits stay an issue for unsuspecting Amazon clients, the e-commerce big mentioned that “fewer than 0.01 % of all merchandise bought on Amazon acquired a counterfeit grievance from clients” in 2020. After all, folks could purchase and use counterfeit merchandise with out ever realizing they’re pretend or with out reporting it to Amazon, in order that proportion could not seize the extent of the issue.

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

Amazon mentioned 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 mixture of superior machine studying capabilities and skilled 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 revealed a single product on the market, and blocked greater than 10 billion suspected unhealthy listings earlier than they have been revealed in our retailer.

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

Amazon mentioned 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 “improve prosecution of counterfeiters, improve sources for regulation enforcement preventing counterfeiters, and incarcerate these criminals globally.”

Stricter seller-verification system

Amazon mentioned it had a “new reside video and bodily tackle verification” system in place in 2020 through which “Amazon connects one-on-one with potential sellers by a video chat or in particular person at an Amazon workplace to confirm sellers’ identities and government-issued documentation.” Amazon mentioned it additionally “verifies new and current sellers’ addresses by sending info together with a singular code to the vendor’s tackle.”

Most new makes an attempt to register as a vendor have been apparently fraudulent, as Amazon mentioned that “solely 6 % of tried new vendor account registrations handed our sturdy verification processes and listed merchandise.” General, Amazon “stopped over 6 million makes an attempt to create a promoting account earlier than they have 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 mentioned.

The verification course of is not sufficient by itself to cease all new fraudulent sellers, so Amazon mentioned it performs “steady monitoring” of sellers to determine new dangers. “If we determine a nasty actor, we instantly shut their account, withhold funds disbursement, and decide if this new info 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 mentioned.

Amazon displays product element adjustments for fraud

One downside we wrote about a few months ago entails “bait-and-switch evaluations” through which sellers trick Amazon into displaying evaluations for unrelated merchandise to get to the highest of Amazon’s search outcomes. In a single case, a $23 drone with 6,400 evaluations achieved a five-star common score solely as a result of it had hundreds of evaluations for honey. Sooner or later, the product itemizing had modified from a meals merchandise to a tech product, however the evaluations for the meals product remained. After a purging of the previous evaluations, that same product page now lists simply 348 rankings at a 3.6-star common.

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

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

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

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