It may not be as cool as what happens in CSI: Miami, but Amazon’s new crime-fighting task force comes at a pivotal time.
The e-commerce giant has established a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which it says is dedicated to bringing parties that list counterfeit products on the marketplace to justice.
Amazon describes the unit as a global, multi-disciplinary team comprised of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators and data analysts.
The company said its first objective is to prevent counterfeit items from being listed in its store in the first place. To that effect, Amazon said its anti-counterfeit efforts have ensured that 99.9% of all Amazon products viewed by customers did not have a valid counterfeit complaint.
In 2019, Amazon put $500 million into anti-counterfeit programs and had more than 8,000 employees dedicated to fighting fraud. Those efforts resulted in Amazon blocking over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019 and blocking over 2.5 million suspected bad-actor accounts before they were able to list a single product.
The Counterfeit Crimes Unit will investigate cases where a bad actor has tried to evade Amazon’s systems and list a counterfeit product in violation of the company’s policies. The unit will mine Amazon’s data, cull information from external resources like payment service providers, and leverage ground assets to connect the dots between targets.
Overall, Amazon says the unit will enable it to better pursue litigation against these bad actors, work with brands on investigations, and aid law enforcement.
The announcement comes amid rampant counterfeiting of safety products needed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, 3M announced it was suing a party that allegedly sold fake, defective and damaged respirator products on Amazon for as much as 20 times 3M’s actual list price — charging unsuspecting customers more than $350,000.