Friday, November 13, 2020

Amazon sued two influencers for promoting the sale of counterfeit goods hidden on Amazon's site

CNBC described the scheme:

[The influencers] continued to promote the Amazon listings on their social media accounts and websites via photos and videos, then directed consumers to purchase them using a “hidden link.” The “hidden link” referred to an Amazon listing, run by a seller in on the scheme, for a non-infringing, generic item.

After placing the order, sellers would ship out the counterfeit product instead of the generic item, Amazon says. On her website [the influencers] described how they were disguising counterfeits as non-infringing products in an attempt to skirt past Amazon’s anti-counterfeit tools, the lawsuit says.

“As [she] explains to her followers, a ‘hidden link’ means ‘you order a certain product that looks nothing like the designer dupe in order to hide the item from getting taken [by Amazon] and orders being cancelled’” 

Related, The Verge looked at the problem of fake reviews, and tried to contact Amazon's top reviewers:

The number one reviewer on Amazon, Sara, has a private profile, so her reviews cannot be easily searched. [After The Verge contacted a person that might be Sara, she] did not respond to a request for comment, and it’s unclear whether the two profiles are connected. After The Verge began reporting this story, Sara changed her profile photo on Amazon to an image that read “so tired of fake people.” 


The number two reviewer on the platform vanished shortly after The Verge began reporting this story. Their name was “the giving brook” and they’d left 4,641 reviews. The vast majority of their recent posts were for unknown Chinese brands.

It’s difficult to definitively determine which top reviewers are engaged in suspicious behavior, in part because so few use real names. I was able to contact the number five reviewer on the site, whose name is listed as Mickey. When I reached out on Facebook, identifying myself as a reporter, Mickey asked to see my products, seemingly mistaking me for a seller. It was a confusing interaction.