A decade ago, if large quantities of merchandise from a retail store were reported stolen, the place to find those products was probably a pawn shop.
Today, criminal networks are distributing their stolen products on sites like Amazon.com, where lax rules allow them to get away with it.
It’s a growing problem that consumers, who are shopping online more than ever amid the coronavirus pandemic, are starting to worry about. In fact, a new poll shows that 65 percent of consumers planning to shop on Amazon during Prime Day are certain or suspect that they have previously purchased a counterfeit good on the site.
Nine in 10 believe Amazon should ask third-party sellers to go through an identification and verification process in order to be able to sell to the public online.
The poll was conducted by the Buy Safe America Coalition, a consortium of leading retailers who are pushing Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act. A bill which would help prevent criminals from anonymously selling stolen and counterfeit goods on sites like Amazon. It would require online marketplaces to collect and verify seller information and provide that information to consumers.
"These results should serve as a clear warning to shoppers to be on high alert for the sale of counterfeit or stolen goods on Prime Day," said Michael Hanson, spokesperson for the Buy Safe America Coalition, in a statement. "Until online marketplaces start collecting and verifying information from third-party sellers, there will simply be no way to keep consumers safe from the sale of fraudulent goods. The bottom line is that we need to improve transparency so that consumers can shop with confidence regardless of where they choose to shop."
Without stricter rules in place for third-party sellers, there is no sign that criminal networks will slow down. Just this week, law enforcement in California recovered $8 million of stolen merchandise from a crime ring in the Bay Area. The criminals had stolen goods from CVS, Target and Walgreens – including more than $1 million dollars’ worth just of razors – and stored them in warehouses. According to law enforcement, many of the goods were then sold online through a shell company.
If recent busts are any indication, Prime Day could very well turn into Crime Day. In any case, there’s no doubt that law enforcement and lawmakers will be watching closely.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitley's reports — More Here.
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