June 11, 2024 7:00 AM

CCU dismantles illegal online schemes attempting to submit fake documents to Amazon to evade controls

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) filed six lawsuits against bad actors operating various illicit schemes that attempted to evade Amazon’s product approval processes, such as product vetting requirements that must be met before a product is approved for sale in the Amazon store. These schemes generally involved providing fake product invoices to bad actors attempting to sell counterfeit goods. The CCU often partners with brands such as YETI and Canon to file joint lawsuits against bad actors attempting to sell counterfeits in the Amazon store, but the lawsuits filed today target a new category of bad actor operating an emerging and evasive scheme.
“These illegal online services promised to submit fraudulent documents on behalf of bad actors to Amazon in an attempt to sell counterfeit or other infringing products in the Amazon store,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “Our CCU team may be most known for our relentless pursuit of counterfeiters across the retail industry, but these six separate lawsuits serve as a message that we will work to dismantle new and emerging forms of fraud to hold bad actors accountable across the counterfeit ecosystem, regardless of where or how they operate.”
The defendants named in the lawsuits claim to handle every step of the product approval process in exchange for fees. When hired, defendants gain access to the bad actors’ seller accounts and submit fraudulent documents to Amazon in an effort to evade Amazon’s vetting and approval requirements.
As part of our robust vetting processes and controls, Amazon reviewed the documents provided by the bad actors and confirmed they were falsified and sourced from the defendants. Amazon then worked with an outside investigator to pose as an interested party and contact many of these online sites with the stated intention of selling a product that required additional verifying documents to be sent to Amazon. In response, the defendants named in these lawsuits provided falsified documents to Amazon, confirming the bad actors’ scheme, while many other bad actors advertising similar services collected fees without performing the illicit service.
Amazon leverages a combination of advanced machine learning capabilities, robust vetting, and expert human investigators to protect customers and selling partners, as well as to deter bad actors from ever attempting to create a selling account in the first place. The number of bad actor attempts to create new selling accounts decreased from 6 million attempts in 2020, to 700,000 in 2023, stopping them before they were able to attempt to list a single product for sale in our store.
Once a seller is allowed to sell in the Amazon store, Amazon continues to monitor their account and its behaviors for new risks. Amazon is constantly innovating in this space to stay ahead of bad actors and their attempts to circumvent our controls.
Amazon’s CCU partners with brands and law enforcement to stop bad actors, as well as work upstream from the counterfeit signals the team detects to identify, seize, and appropriately dispose of counterfeit products, resulting in Amazon removing more than 7 million counterfeit products worldwide in 2023 alone. Since the CCU’s founding, the team has pursued more than 21,000 bad actors through litigation and criminal referrals to law enforcement.
The lawsuits were filed in the federal U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under case numbers:
  • 2:21-cv-01283-KKE
  • 23-cv-01062-KKE
  • 23-cv-01061-TL-BAT
  • 22-cv-01755-RSM
  • 2:24-cv-00825
  • 2:24-cv-00824
May 2, 2024 7:00 AM

Amazon and Crye Precision file a joint lawsuit against counterfeiters

With World Intellectual Property (IP) Day last week on April 26, and National Small Business Week fully underway, there is no better opportunity to reflect on the many small and medium-sized businesses Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) supports.
The CCU works with brands of all sizes in the fight against counterfeiters, and we understand the significant negative impact counterfeiting activity can have on smaller brands, which is why we took on more than a dozen cases in 2023, both civil and criminal, affecting small businesses to protect their interests and intellectual property.

Amazon files joint lawsuit with Crye Precision

In March, our team filed a joint lawsuit with Crye Precision, a New York City based business that specializes in the design and manufacturing of high-quality military and police uniforms and equipment, against bad actors attempting to sell counterfeit products in the Amazon store.
Crye partners with hundreds of well-known commercial apparel and equipment brands, providing authorization to use Crye’s trademarked and copyrighted MultiCam family of camouflage patterns on products sold into the military, tactical, and outdoor markets around the globe.
“Amazon is a distinguished ally in our ongoing global battle against counterfeiters. While most companies turn a blind eye to bad actors, Amazon’s pledge to eradicate counterfeit products is a leading example of how to support brands and protect intellectual property,” said Jonathan Antone, general counsel and chief of staff for Crye Precision. “With Amazon’s CCU leading the efforts, we can prioritize our focus on designing and manufacturing life-saving apparel and gear for military and law enforcement personnel.”
While the Crye lawsuit was recently filed, cases filed jointly by the CCU and brands in years prior are resolving successfully, holding bad actors accountable and sending a strong message about the consequences of attempted counterfeiting.

Amazon successfully holds bad actors accountable

Earlier this year a joint lawsuit filed between Amazon and a family-owned card game maker, Dutch Blitz, resulted in a default judgement in favor of Amazon and the brand, resulting in nearly $200,000 in statutory damages which will go to the card game maker. Additionally, a similar default judgement was issued in March pertaining to a joint suit filed between Amazon and California-based family business J.L Childress. The judge awarded more than $1 million in statutory damages in this case.
In addition to large, well-known brands, we have always had a focus on working with and protecting small and medium-sized brands. One of our first civil cases and successful judgements was a joint lawsuit filed with small beauty brand KF Beauty, which resulted in $1.2 million in statutory damages awarded to the brand. We continue to build on those successes with active joint litigation with brands such as Oofos, Felco and Therabody.

These represent only a few examples of our efforts to protect brands and ultimately ensure customers can shop with confidence in the Amazon store. In fact, since the CCU’s founding, the team has pursued more than 21,000 bad actors through litigation and criminal referrals to law enforcement.
Our 2023 Brand Protection Report includes more information on the CCU and the work of the more than 15,000 employees at Amazon dedicated to protecting brands, selling partners, and our store from counterfeit, fraud, and other forms of abuse.
The lawsuits referenced were filed under case numbers:
  • Crye Precision: 2:24-cv-00394, United States District Court Western District of Washington
  • J.L Childress: C20-1215RSM, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Dutch Blitz: 2:21-cv-00162, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • KF Beauty: 2:20-cv-01217, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Oofos: 2:23-cv-00898, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Felco: 22-cv-1506, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Therabody: 2:23-cv-00931, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington