Amazon on Wednesday said that it has gathered a team of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts for a global "Counterfeit Crimes Unit."
The group will aid Amazon's existing effort battling sales of fakes through its site, with a goal of driving down the number to zero, according to a company press release.
While the e-commerce giant said its priority remains prevention, the new team will investigate cases where "a bad actor has attempted to evade Amazon's systems and listed a counterfeit in violation of Amazon's policies." That will make it easier to get results through civil and criminal legal action, the company said.
E-commerce has greased the skids for anyone selling counterfeit goods, and Amazon is no exception. The problem is exacerbated by healthy demand, even when consumers realize that what they're buying is a knockoff.
While the e-retailer has worked to punish or remove offending third-party sellers from its Marketplace, it's largely been a game of whack-a-mole as those sellers reappear with new accounts. The stakes are getting higher for Amazon, as courts have recently found that it is also responsible for fakes sold through the Marketplace, as in a federal Texas court earlier this year.
Several brands have consistently slammed Amazon over the issue, in some cases pulling their goods from the site. Last year, the American Apparel & Footwear Association urged the U.S. trade office to mark some Amazon websites as "notorious markets" for their proliferation of counterfeit goods.
The e-commerce giant says it is diligent. When it comes to the AAFA's effort, the company last year pointed to its prevention of more than a million "suspected bad actors" from listing products and blocked more than 3 billion suspicious listings, and maintained that over 99.9% of its assortment "never have received a complaint about a suspected counterfeit from a customer or rights owner."
More recently, Amazon teamed with Italian luxury brand Valentino in a joint lawsuit against a former Marketplace seller over sales of fake versions of Valentino's Garavani Rockstud shoes, "in violation of Amazon's policies and Valentino's intellectual property rights."