Amazon has unveiled its Counterfeit Crimes Unit, a global, multi-disciplinary team that includes former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators and data analysts. The negative impacts of counterfeiting are high: counterfeit products are estimated to have cost the global economy $323 billion in 2018.
The new Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which will investigate cases where a bad actor has tried to evade Amazon’s systems by listing a counterfeit product, will mine Amazon’s data; cull information from external resources such as payment service providers and open source intelligence; and leverage assets “on the ground” to connect the dots between targets.
Additionally, the Unit will help Amazon:
- More effectively pursue civil litigation against bad actors;
- Work with brands in joint or independent investigations; and
- Aid law enforcement worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters.
Establishing this group is just the latest attempt by Amazon to stem the flow of counterfeit products sold on its site. In March 2019 Amazon launched Project Zero to detect fake products before they are purchased. At that time, the e-Commerce giant unveiled tools capable of scanning more than 5 billion product listing updates per day in search of fakes. In November 2016, Amazon filed its first-ever lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters.
Amazon also has collaborated with brands and law enforcement to hold counterfeiters accountable through financial penalties, civil litigation and criminal prosecution. The company works with the National Intellectual Property Right Center in the U.S., Europol in the EU, and relevant enforcement authorities in China and around the world.
“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,” said Dharmesh Mehta, VP, Customer Trust and Partner Support at Amazon in a statement. “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.”