Amazon has announced that it’s launching a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit as the latest effort by the online retailer to fight counterfeit products on its website. The new team is said to be made up of “former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts,” who will work to proactively “go on the offensive” against counterfeiters, instead of just reacting by trying to identify and block bad listings.
According to Amazon, the new Counterfeit Crimes Unit will make it easier for the company to file civil lawsuits, aid brands in their own investigations, and work with law enforcement officials in fighting counterfeiters.
Counterfeit products are a big issue for the online retailer, especially from third-party sellers that try to dupe customers into buying fake knockoffs. Nike recently stopped selling direct products through Amazon, citing unlicensed and imposter sellers as a contributing factor. Even Amazon’s own products and brands aren’t immune.
The problem has gotten to the point where the Trump administration recently placed five of Amazon’s foreign websites on the White House’s annual “notorious markets” list. At the time, Amazon claimed that it was being targeted due to a “personal vendetta” that President Donald Trump has with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose (separate) ownership of The Washington Post has led to a long-running feud between the two.
To its credit, Amazon notes that it spent over $500 million in 2019 to fight fraud, abuse, and counterfeit products, with 8,000 employees working on those efforts. The company also reports blocking 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts in 2019 before any sales could be made and shutting down 6 billion suspected bad listings last year.