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

Patrick
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 printed in our retailer,” the corporate mentioned in its first “Model Safety 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 mentioned. “In circumstances the place counterfeit merchandise are in our achievement facilities, we separate the stock and destroy these merchandise so they aren’t resold elsewhere within the provide chain,” the report additionally mentioned.

Third-party sellers also can 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 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 supply counterfeit merchandise,” Amazon VP Dharmesh Mehta wrote in a weblog publish yesterday.

Counterfeiting is a longstanding downside on Amazon. Different issues on Amazon that hurt shoppers embody the sale of harmful merchandise, faux evaluations, faulty third-party items, and the passing of bribes from unscrupulous sellers to unscrupulous Amazon staff and contractors. One US appeals court docket dominated in 2019 that Amazon might be held chargeable for faulty third-party items, however Amazon has received different related circumstances. Amazon is once more arguing that it shouldn’t be held answerable 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 reputable sellers that their merchandise will not be counterfeited. Whereas counterfeits stay an issue for unsuspecting Amazon clients, the e-commerce large mentioned that “fewer than 0.01 % of all merchandise bought on Amazon obtained a counterfeit criticism from clients” in 2020. In fact, folks might purchase and use counterfeit merchandise with out ever realizing they’re faux 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 intensive programs and processes to find out which sellers can do enterprise on Amazon. Whereas Amazon has argued in court docket that it isn’t answerable for what third events promote on its platform, the corporate is monitoring sellers in an effort to take care of credibility with patrons and legit 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 continuously 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 have been printed in our retailer.

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

Amazon mentioned it now “report[s] all confirmed counterfeiters to legislation enforcement companies in Canada, China, the European Union, UK, and US.” Amazon additionally urged governments to “improve prosecution of counterfeiters, improve sources for legislation enforcement combating 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 wherein “Amazon connects one-on-one with potential sellers by way of 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 present 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 strong verification processes and listed merchandise.” General, Amazon “stopped over 6 million makes an attempt to create a promoting account earlier than they have been capable of 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 establish new dangers. “If we establish 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 prison prosecution and report the unhealthy actor to legislation enforcement,” Amazon mentioned.

Amazon displays product element modifications for fraud

One downside we wrote about a couple of months in the past entails “bait-and-switch evaluations” wherein 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 ranking solely as a result of it had 1000’s of evaluations for honey. In some unspecified time in the future, 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 outdated evaluations, that similar product web page now lists simply 348 scores at a 3.6-star common.

Amazon is attempting 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 offers self-service instruments to firms to assist them block counterfeits of their merchandise. Amazon’s report mentioned that 18,000 manufacturers have enrolled in “Mission Zero,” which “offers manufacturers with unprecedented energy by giving them the flexibility to immediately take away listings from our retailer.” This system additionally has an optionally available product serialization characteristic 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 way of our self-service counterfeit removing device, our automated protections eliminated greater than 600 listings by way of scaled expertise and machine studying that proactively addresses potential counterfeits and stops these listings from showing in our retailer,” Amazon mentioned.

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