Amazon is battling fraud amid the COVID-19 pandemic by using video conference calls to verify the identity of new merchants, according to a Reuters report on Sunday (April 26).
The eCommerce giant is trialing video as an alternative to in-person meetings that were canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. Face-to-face meetings and video calls were being piloted before the pandemic as a way to stop counterfeit merchandise.
Amazon has been scrutinized in the past regarding its efforts to combat counterfeits and alleged unsafe merchandise. Brands like Apple and Nike have been exasperated by knock-offs and others have been disinclined to sell on the Amazon platform at all.
Interview vetting complements Amazon’s additional screening efforts and has been trialed with over 1,000 merchants in the U.S. as well as in China, the U.K. and Japan.
Sellers in China might have issues with Amazon’s additional scrutiny as many have used multiple accounts, private networks and counterfeit utility bills. Merchants from China make up some 40 percent of the top 10,000 Amazon sellers in Europe, and more than half of Amazon’s sales came from third-party sellers in 2019.
Amazon has been aggressively removing counterfeit and unproven products that claim to detect, treat, or cure COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters last month to some eCommerce merchants because of coronavirus claims.
Amid the pandemic, Amazon said it is upping capacity for grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market as quickly as possible. The company is continuing to target high-priority items to ensure the fastest delivery of household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers.
“We're vigorously combating price gouging to help protect customers, help ensure fair pricing, and combat those seeking to profit off the COVID-19 crisis,” Amazon said in a statement.
Amazon started reporting fake merchandise to U.S. and European law enforcement in January. The company had been criticized in the past for its sometimes-underwhelming capability to deal with counterfeits.