Several Amazon trailers lined up outside a shipping center.
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 dangerous listings earlier than they have been revealed 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 don’t seem to be resold elsewhere within the provide chain,” the report additionally mentioned.

Third-party sellers may ship merchandise on to shoppers as an alternative of utilizing Amazon’s delivery 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 obtained worse over the previous yr. “All through the pandemic, we have seen elevated makes an attempt by dangerous 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 embrace the sale of harmful merchandise, pretend opinions, faulty third-party items, and the passing of bribes from unscrupulous sellers to unscrupulous Amazon workers and contractors. One US appeals court docket dominated in 2019 that Amazon might be held liable for faulty third-party items, however Amazon has gained different related circumstances. Amazon is once more arguing that it shouldn’t be held accountable for a faulty third-party product in a case earlier than the Texas Supreme Court docket that entails a severely injured toddler.

Amazon tries to reassure legit sellers

Amazon’s new report was meant to reassure official sellers that their merchandise will not be counterfeited. Whereas counterfeits stay an issue for unsuspecting Amazon prospects, the e-commerce large mentioned that “fewer than 0.01 p.c of all merchandise offered on Amazon acquired a counterfeit criticism from prospects” in 2020. In fact, folks could purchase and use counterfeit merchandise with out ever realizing they’re pretend or with out reporting it to Amazon, in order that share could not seize the extent of the issue.

Amazon’s report on counterfeits describes intensive methods and processes to find out which sellers can do enterprise on Amazon. Whereas Amazon has argued in court docket that it’s not accountable for what third events promote on its platform, the corporate is monitoring sellers in an effort to take care of credibility with consumers and bonafide 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 mix of superior machine studying capabilities and skilled human investigators to guard our retailer proactively from dangerous actors and dangerous merchandise. We’re continuously innovating to remain forward of dangerous actors and their makes an attempt to bypass our controls. In 2020, we prevented over 6 million makes an attempt to create new promoting accounts, stopping dangerous actors earlier than they revealed a single product on the market, and blocked greater than 10 billion suspected dangerous listings earlier than they have been revealed in our retailer.

“That is an escalating battle with criminals that try and promote counterfeits, and the one strategy to completely cease counterfeiters is to carry them accountable by way of litigation within the court docket system and thru felony 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 in opposition to 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 “enhance prosecution of counterfeiters, enhance assets for legislation enforcement preventing counterfeiters, and incarcerate these criminals globally.”

Stricter seller-verification system

Amazon mentioned it had a “new dwell video and bodily deal with verification” system in place in 2020 by which “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 current sellers’ addresses by sending data together with a novel code to the vendor’s deal with.”

Most new makes an attempt to register as a vendor have been apparently fraudulent, as Amazon mentioned that “solely 6 p.c 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 determine new dangers. “If we determine a nasty actor, we instantly shut their account, withhold funds disbursement, and decide if this new data brings different associated accounts into suspicion. We additionally decide if the case warrants civil or felony prosecution and report the dangerous actor to legislation enforcement,” Amazon mentioned.

Amazon screens product element adjustments for fraud

One downside we wrote about a number of months in the past entails “bait-and-switch opinions” by which sellers trick Amazon into displaying opinions for unrelated merchandise to get to the highest of Amazon’s search outcomes. In a single case, a $23 drone with 6,400 opinions achieved a five-star common ranking solely as a result of it had 1000’s of opinions for honey. In some unspecified time in the future, the product itemizing had modified from a meals merchandise to a tech product, however the opinions for the meals product remained. After a purging of the previous opinions, that identical product web page now lists simply 348 scores at a 3.6-star common.

Amazon is making an attempt to stop recurrences of this downside, saying in its new report that it scans “greater than 5 billion tried adjustments to product element pages day by 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 power to straight take away listings from our retailer.” This system additionally has an elective product serialization characteristic that lets sellers put distinctive codes on their merchandise or packaging.

The self-service instrument 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 instrument, our automated protections eliminated greater than 600 listings by way of scaled know-how and machine studying that proactively addresses potential counterfeits and stops these listings from showing in our retailer,” Amazon mentioned.

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