Amazon is known for its customer obsession, and a critical part of that is earning and maintaining the trust placed in us by our customers and sellers, which is why we are focused on creating a trustworthy shopping experience each and every day. Organized retail crime, or ORC, is an industry-wide issue facing all retailers including Amazon that threatens the shopping experience we have developed over the course of multiple decades.

The impact of organized retail crime

ORC is responsible for significant losses across the retail industry every year, and those behind these crimes are often highly organized and have ties to sprawling criminal operations that extend beyond state or even country lines. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security states these criminal networks are often tied to other illicit activities such as drug trafficking, terrorism financing, and weapons trafficking.

Stay up to date on the latest actions taken by Amazon to protect consumers.

One example of ORC is the direct theft from retailers such as “smash-and-grab” incidents that result in stolen goods, and threaten the safety of employees and the public. This type of dangerous crime is vitally important to address, but represents only one variation of a broader issue that involves theft at all stages in the supply chain. Bad actors involved in ORC aggressively attempt to exploit any possible gaps in the global retail supply chain, including stealing from manufacturers, cargo carriers, warehouses, and retailers.

Amazon is directly impacted by these crimes, and it’s why we take, and advocate for, a holistic approach to combatting ORC.

Amazon’s efforts to stop organized retail crime

Amazon leverages sophisticated detection and prevention solutions across our stores and fulfillment operations, allowing us to quickly spot a range of ORC schemes like theft through retail concessions, cargo theft, and potential resale of stolen goods in our stores.

We have also invested in proactive tools such as Amazon Transparency, an item serialization service that creates a distinct Amazon provided code that is unique to each manufactured unit of an enrolled product. This allows us to have a clearer picture of where a product is on the journey to the customer, and shows great promise in tracking and detecting stolen items. We continue to innovate and improve our programs, including recently expanding Transparency to become interoperable with brands’ own product serialization systems, allowing brands to benefit from Transparency’s protections easier, faster, and without requiring changes to their existing manufacturing and packaging processes. More than 33,000 brands are enrolled in Transparency, and we will continue to invest in these and other technologies in order to always stay one step ahead of bad actors.

Brands that already have their own product serialization can now benefit from Amazon Transparency’s product authenticity verification and supply chain tracking.

We have supported policy solutions and actions by federal, state, and local law enforcement to curb ORC. We participate in Attorney General led ORC task forces and are working with California Attorney General Rob Bonta to advance information-sharing and detection regarding theft across the supply chain. At the Federal level, we support the proposed Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, or CORCA, a bipartisan, federal solution that would establish a national coordination center between law enforcement and retailers to curb organized retail crime.

Holding bad actors accountable

Amazon works tirelessly to protect our customers, selling partners, and the integrity of our store from ORC threats, which starts with developing industry-leading solutions to stop ORC before it happens. And when bad actors attempt evade those controls to steal or sell stolen products in our store, we aggressively pursue legal actions against the them, including referring bad actors to law enforcement and bringing lawsuits to dismantle their schemes.

Amazon’s teams of experienced cybercrime attorneys and investigators have referred thousands of ORC bad actors to law enforcement who are responsible for hundreds of millions in losses across the retail industry. Amazon’s actions target the entire ORC ecosystem, including cargo theft, theft from our stores, and the resale of stolen goods—all of which benefits the broader retail industry, not just Amazon.

Below are a few recent accomplishments:

  • In May 2023, using evidence provided by Amazon, the California Highway Patrol arrested 40 suspects in a crime ring linked to more than $150 million in stolen merchandise from a number of retailers. Similarly, in October 2023, our teams assisted Florida law enforcement to stop a 50-person theft ring and recover more than $1 million in stolen products and more than $500,000 in illicit funds.
  • In November 2023, law enforcement on three continents took action against multiple ORC schemes using evidence supplied by Amazon. These actions disrupted illicit refund service provider (RSP) operations, which are schemes where bad actors offer fraudulent refunds as a service in online forums. These schemes target numerous retailers, not just, Amazon. Law enforcement’s work, supported by Amazon, disrupted millions in fraud and resulted in the arrest of dozens of bad actors.
  • Amazon also takes civil action against these types of bad actors, and in December 2023 filed a lawsuit against the illicit refund organization REKK. REKK advertised across online forums and social media channels that, in exchange for a fee, it will lead individuals through a process to fraudulently obtain refunds for items ordered in the Amazon store, without needing to return the purchased product. Amazon teams then shared the news of the lawsuit directly in the online forums where these groups operate to send a clear message that this type of illicit behavior will be aggressively pursued.

These actions hold bad actors accountable and show that Amazon will relentlessly pursue those who attempt to damage the integrity of our store and ultimately negatively impact our customers and selling partners.

Moving forward

Despite these successes and the progress we’ve made, we also understand ORC is an evolving and complex problem that requires a multipronged and collaborative solution. A vital component of effectively combatting ORC is ensuring retailers, brands, law enforcement, and policymakers all work together to make meaningful progress.

We will continue to advocate for policy solutions to provide the resources needed to further empower and enable law enforcement to combat this issue across the supply chain. Amazon stands committed and ready to work closely with all stakeholders who share our commitment to address ORC for the benefit of the entire retail industry.