Amazon launches Counterfeit Crimes Unit to work with police in fight against fraudsters

Amazon is launching a new unit to crack down on counterfeit goods, the company announced Wednesday.

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which will be composed of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts, will probe the platform and collect information from outside resources to locate "bad actors" who are trying to profit from knock-off items, the company said.

"Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located," Dharmesh Mehta, vice president of Amazon Customer Trust and Partner Support, said in a statement.

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A group of activists painted a mural in front of the Washington D.C., home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday to demand better protections for workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of activists painted a mural in front of the Washington D.C., home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday to demand better protections for workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

In 2019, the retail giant invested more than $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud and abuse, including counterfeit. Amazon, which has been battling scam products and counterfeits for many years, said its efforts have blocked "over 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts" before they could even put a product up for sale on the platform.

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"We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, and we applaud the law enforcement authorities who are already part of this fight. We urge governments to give these authorities the investigative tools, funding and resources they need to bring criminal counterfeiters to justice because criminal enforcement -- through prosecution and other disruption measures such as freezing assets -- is one of the most effective ways to stop them," Mehta said.

The new unit will allow the company, led by CEO Jeff Bezos, to "more effectively pursue civil litigation against suspected criminals, work with brands in joint or independent investigations and aid law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters," it said.