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Amazon establishes crime-busting unit to bring counterfeiters to justice

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Amazon has established a crime-busting unit charged with bringing counterfeiters that violate the law and Amazon’s policies to justice.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a global team composed of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts.

Their job, according to Amazon, is to drive the level of counterfeiting to zero.

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Amazon says its first objective is to prevent a counterfeit from ever being listed in its store, and points out that current anti-counterfeit programmes have ensured that 99.9% were compliant.

In 2019, Amazon invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud, including counterfeit, and  blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019. More than 2.5 million suspected accounts were blocked before they were able to put products on sale.

Counterfeit watches have become an increasing problem because of the rising sophistication of fraudsters.

The problem is getting worse because, while the total number of fake watches manufactured every year may be stable at around 40 million pieces, the quality from a handful of the most advanced Chinese factories is increasing.

Anthony Fabiano, co-founder of Watch Certification Services of America (Watch CSA), a specialist in authenticating luxury watches for trade customers, says super fakes are a growing problem because the quality keeps on rising.

“The tier one counterfeiters of these super fakes are moving so fast with improvements. They monitor forums that share information about how consumers can spot fakes, and then immediately address those issues in the watches they make,” Mr Fabiano tells WatchPro.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit will investigate cases where a bad actor has attempted to evade Amazon’s systems and listed a counterfeit in violation of Amazon’s policies.

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit will mine Amazon’s data, cull information from external resources such as payment service providers and open source intelligence, and leverage on-the-ground assets to connect the dots between targets.

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit enables Amazon to more effectively pursue civil litigation against bad actors, work with brands in joint or independent investigations, and aid law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters.

“Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located,” says Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon.

“We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, and we applaud the law enforcement authorities who are already part of this fight. We urge governments to give these authorities the investigative tools, funding, and resources they need to bring criminal counterfeiters to justice because criminal enforcement – through prosecution and other disruption measures such as freezing assets – is one of the most effective ways to stop them.”

James Hendy, watch expert and general manager of eBay Authenticate, a department working on establishing greater trust for its online auction platform, welcomed the Amazon initiative. “This is a marathon process and great to see them stepping up,” he says.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder