i2c - The Credit Economy June 2023

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit Pursued 1,300 Criminals Last Year

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) sued or referred for investigation more than 1,300 criminals and disposed of 6 million counterfeit products last year.

These actions took place in China, the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom and the United States, Amazon said in a Wednesday (Nov. 1) press release.

Formed in 2020, the CCU has invested in advanced machine learning (ML) techniques to improve its proactive controls and counterfeit detection systems, according to the release.

“Over the past three years, CCU has followed counterfeit signals up the supply chain in the pursuit of counterfeiting networks at their source,” Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, said in the release.

By providing law enforcement with evidence to support criminal investigations and raid actions, the CCU has played a crucial role in facilitating the removal of counterfeit products from the global supply chain, according to the press release.

One example of the CCU’s collaboration with law enforcement occurred in China, the release said. With intelligence provided by Amazon’s CCU, Chinese law enforcement conducted raids on five locations suspected of housing a large auto accessory counterfeiting organization. These raids resulted in the seizure of 40,000 counterfeit auto accessories and intellectual property-infringing car logo stickers across more than 30 auto brands. Additionally, 270 production tools used to manufacture counterfeit accessories were confiscated, preventing other bad actors from using them.

In Europe, the CCU worked with London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Philips to identify and disrupt counterfeiting rings involved in manufacturing and selling counterfeit electric-toothbrush heads, per the release. Multiple businesses and residences were raided, leading to the seizure of thousands of counterfeit toothbrush heads and the arrest of a suspected individual involved in the scheme.

In addition to these successful raids, Amazon’s CCU has filed joint civil suits and referred cases to law enforcement agencies to target counterfeiting rings attempting to sell fake products, according to the release. By taking legal action and disrupting these networks, Amazon aims to protect its customers and the broader retail industry.

“We will relentlessly innovate to protect customers and work closely with all stakeholders committed to collaborating with us to remain two steps ahead, as we strive toward the shared goal of eliminating counterfeits across the retail industry,” Smith said in the release.

Amazon also has automation and ML working behind the scenes to spot and block fraudulent sellers, the retailer said in April. During 2022, Amazon blocked 800,000 fraudulent sellers from making it past the account creation step.