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Amazon Targets Counterfeits   05/10 06:51


   NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon, which has been under pressure from shoppers, brands 
and lawmakers to crack down on counterfeits on its site, said Monday that it 
blocked more than 10 billion suspected phony listings last year before any of 
their offerings could be sold.

   The numbers were released in Amazon's first report on its 
anti-counterfeiting efforts since it announced new tools and technologies in 
2019. The number of blocked phony listings last year was up about 67% from the 
year before.

   The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth said the number of counterfeiters 
attempting to sell on the site rose as scammers tried to take advantage of 
shoppers who were buying more online during the pandemic.

   Amazon has been wrestling with counterfeits for years. But since 2019, it 
has warned investors in government filings that the sale of phony goods poses a 
risk to the company and its image. Brands may not want to sell their items on 
the site if they know there are fake versions being offered. And knock-offs 
could cause shoppers to lose their trust in Amazon.

   Counterfeiters try to get their products on Amazon through its third-party 
marketplace, where sellers can list their items directly on the site. The 
company destroyed 2 million counterfeit products sent to its warehouses last 
year before they could be sold. And it said fewer than 0.01% of all items 
bought on the site received counterfeit complaints from shoppers.

   Amazon said it can stop counterfeiters before they can sell anything thanks 
to machine-learning technology, which automatically scans listings to remove 
suspected counterfeits. The company also gives brands a way to remove fake 
items from the site themselves, rather than reporting them to Amazon and 
waiting for it to do something.

   The company's efforts comes as lawmakers are looking at ways to reduce 
counterfeits online. Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Democratic 
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois re-introduced the INFORM Consumers Act this year. 
It would require third-party sellers to be verified and to disclose their name 
and address to shoppers. The bill was introduced last year but wasn't voted on.

   Amazon and smaller online stores, such as eBay and Etsy, oppose the bill for 
reasons including concerns it could discourage people from starting a small 
business and selling online. But groups that represent big-box physical 
retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, support it because they say it levels 
the playing field, since physical retailers already make sure their shelves are 
free of fakes.

   Amazon said it spent more than $700 million last year on its 
anti-counterfeiting efforts and has 10,000 people working on it. The company 
has also been filing joint lawsuits with brands, including one earlier this 
year with Salvatore Ferragamo against counterfeiters who were selling 
knock-offs of the high-end brand's belts on the site.

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