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The new Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit launched on June 24, 2020. This unit is dedicated to looking into counterfeiting on Amazon  and bringing culprits to justice. Anyone who tries to list counterfeit products on Amazon will be penalized.

In this article, we’ll discuss what the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is, what brought it into existence, and what the unit will do to protect the Amazon marketplace.


Anti-Counterfeiting on Amazon


Every day, counterfeiters try to sell knock-offs on Amazon, illegally using the brand names of other companies. They often violate trademark, patent, and copyright laws as they list these inferior-quality items. Millions of different sellers on Amazon sell hundreds of millions of products on various marketplaces. It is not surprising that one of Amazon’s most pressing issues is counterfeiting operations. It is also not surprising that Amazon takes an aggressive stance against counterfeiting.    

Amazon invested over $500 million in anti-counterfeiting efforts in 2019, with more than 8,000 employees hired to fight fraud and intellectual property rights abuse. Through these efforts, Amazon blocked an astonishing 2.5 million accounts belonging to suspected fraudsters before they could list any counterfeit products. The company also blocked an existing 6 million listings that were suspected counterfeits the same year.

As a result, only 0.1% of products on the Amazon marketplace showed registered counterfeit complaints. This is a great achievement, but Amazon will not stop until that percentage reaches 0. The company is the only one investing such large sums into fighting counterfeiting.


Project Zero


Project Zero is an existing invite-only Amazon anti-counterfeiting effort. It launched in April of 2019 to offer brands tools that they can use to protect their intellectual property, authenticate products, and spot counterfeits on the marketplace. Automated protections scan billions of listings every day to detect fraudulent use brand logos, trademarks, and the like. The self-service counterfeit removal tool helps brands remove counterfeit listings manually. The product serialization tool is used by Amazon to verify a listed item’s authenticity before delivery to customers. This third tool incurs a cost, but it is small compared to the impact of counterfeiting claims.


Pressure from Brands, Customers, and the Government


Amazon has been dealing with counterfeiters for many years. In recent years, however, customers, brands and regulators have been paying closer attention to this fraudulent activity. Counterfeit product sales on eCommerce platforms like Amazon has increased, and Amazon had to step up its efforts to protect itself.

In January of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released recommendations on combating counterfeits. Amazon and other online marketplaces were directed to apply these measures. The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit was launched just after the Trump administration flagged several Amazon marketplaces in April this year as being “notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy.” The marketplaces named directly in the report are Amazon Canada, France, Germany, India, and the U.K.

Amazon has been vigilant over the past few years against what they call “bad actors” on the marketplace. The company does not want to allow these counterfeiters to continue to steal revenue from legitimate brands and offer low-quality products to its customers. Amazon is, therefore, very serious about taking counterfeiting on the marketplace down to zero.

Amazon even urges governments worldwide to give law enforcement the tools and resources they need to investigate, prosecute, and sanction criminal counterfeiters.


The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit


The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is part of Amazon’s growing efforts to prevent counterfeiting from happening on its worldwide marketplaces. It also supports the goal of not letting counterfeiters get away scot-free. Amazon encourages brands and cooperates with law enforcement to fight counterfeiters and hold them accountable for their crimes.

The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a global team made up of “former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts” Amazon has already invested substantial resources into preventing counterfeiting, and this unit will support existing company efforts to protect the Amazon store.

The team’s goal is to identify anyone attempting to sell knock-offs and assist law enforcement officials in apprehending and prosecuting counterfeiters to the full extent of the law. They will also work with brands on Amazon to help them process civil litigation against retail scammers and fraudsters.

Related content: Amazon Project Zero

Response to the Unit


Brands and customers are pleased with the launch of the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit. Counterfeiters will be dealt with promptly and harshly if they attempt to list fake products on the marketplace. The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit gives Amazon the ability to more effectively go after these counterfeiters and bring civil action against them. It also allows them to more effectively work with brands to investigate cases and work with law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Brands can now more effectively protect their intellectual property on the worldwide Amazon sites. The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit helps brands to uphold their brand identity and integrity with customers. Customers will again feel safe shopping on Amazon, which is great for them, for brands, and for Amazon itself.


How the Unit Works  


The key to The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is global professionals working together to investigate bad actors on the marketplace. Amazon has security systems in place, but counterfeiters are working every day to circumvent these measures. The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit adds massive resources to their existing anti-counterfeiting efforts. The company can now help law enforcement officials seeking criminal justice while also pursuing prosecution and civil litigation. The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit team also works both independently and jointly with brands that have been victimized by counterfeiters.

Related content: How to Use Amazon Transparency

Final Thoughts


Counterfeiting is not a new threat to online marketplaces like Amazon. Counterfeit product listing is one of the company’s most serious complaints – from both the customer and the seller sides. Amazon takes responsibility for the problem, and is stepping up efforts to hold counterfeiters accountable. Bringing the number of counterfeit products on the marketplace down to zero benefits Amazon greatly. Loyal customers and happy sellers are what make Amazon great.

Counterfeiters should be wary of the seriousness and power of the new Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit to not only shut them down but aid in their prosecution. The unit is designed to hold counterfeiters accountable to the fullest extent of the law, in cooperation with law enforcement authorities. It does not matter where they are located or on what marketplace they try to sell their products.

Counterfeiters will not stop trying to sell on Amazon, but the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a big help in creating a more trustworthy and clean online marketplace.   

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