The Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) takes direct action against bad actors, either through civil lawsuits or criminal referrals to law enforcement agencies worldwide. Learn more about the CCU, and continue to visit this page for the latest news and updates.
- Amazon and Ferragamo achieve positive result in counterfeiting case
- CCU files lawsuits against individuals attempting to promote counterfeit luxury items through social media
- Three more bad actors plead guilty to selling Cisco counterfeits and face prison sentences
- Amazon files lawsuit against video piracy ring
- Amazon cracks down on counterfeit Fire TV remotes in new lawsuit
- Therabody and Amazon file a new lawsuit against counterfeiters
- Bad actor who sold Cisco counterfeits faces up to 6.5 years in prison
- Amazon and YETI continue the pursuit against counterfeiters with second round of lawsuits
- Amazon and Canon file joint lawsuit to protect customers and hold counterfeiters accountable
- Amazon targets multiple bad actors in novel lawsuits, further protecting selling partners from fraud
- Amazon and Brother announce lawsuit to shut down Germany-based counterfeit ring
September 29, 2023
Amazon and Ferragamo achieve positive result in counterfeiting case
On September 27, a Washington federal judge granted Amazon and Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.’s (“Ferragamo”) request for a permanent injunction against a bad actor who attempted to sell counterfeit Ferragamo belts in Amazon’s store.
The injunction represents a successful conclusion to cases stemming from two joint lawsuits filed by Ferragamo and Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit in 2021. The defendant is also required to pay to Ferragamo $128,400 in statutory damages.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said in the order that the defendant “deceptively sold counterfeit Ferragamo-branded products on Amazon, which harms the public’s interest in authentic products and injures plaintiffs’ businesses.”
“We are pleased with Judge Martinez’s decision to grant our petition for a permanent injunction, which effectively brings this matter to a successful resolution,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “We are also grateful for the collaboration with Ferragamo, who shares our commitment to protecting customers and holding bad actors accountable for their illicit activity.”
"We are really happy of this new achievement which demonstrates how much Ferragamo values the protection of the Brand and the fight against counterfeiting." said Claudia Ricchetti, Ferragamo's Group general counsel. "The joint action with Amazon also underscores our commitment to safeguarding our community of consumers, who is the most treasured and to whom our effort is mostly devoted.”
The lawsuits were originally filed in February 2021 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and alleged the defendants conspired to use Ferragamo’s registered trademarks, without authorization, to deceive customers about the authenticity and origin of the products and the affiliation with Ferragamo. In connection with the lawsuits, Amazon worked with Ferragamo and Chinese authorities to raid a bad actor’s warehouse, seizing hundreds of counterfeit belts and buckle accessories that may otherwise have been sold through retail channels around the world.
Read the order granting the permanent injunction.
September 6, 2023
CCU files lawsuits against individuals attempting to promote counterfeit luxury items through social media
The CCU announced the filing of two new lawsuits against Kamryn Russell, Ashley Hawat, and their co-conspirators who knowingly attempted to evade Amazon’s brand protection systems in an effort to promote, advertise, and facilitate the sale of counterfeit luxury fashion goods such as jewelry, handbags, and accessories.
“These bad actors knew exactly what they were doing when they attempted to evade Amazon’s brand protection systems to sell counterfeit products that clearly infringed on brands’ intellectual property rights,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “Content creators serve an important role for consumers around the globe, and these lawsuits not only seek to protect Amazon and the affected brands, but also seek to hold accountable those who diminish the role of legitimate content creators.”
August 24, 2023
Three more bad actors plead guilty to selling Cisco counterfeits and face prison sentences
Three co-conspirators pleaded guilty in federal court this month to crimes related to the sale of counterfeit Cisco products in stores across the retail industry, and they now face years of jail time and significant restitution and fines. These guilty pleas are the result of the government’s investigation and a referral from Cisco and Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU).
From 2017 through 2021, the bad actors ran a wide-ranging operation that focused on the sale of counterfeit Cisco networking devices that they procured through illicit suppliers based in China. In May 2021, federal agents raided the bad actors’ warehouse in New Jersey, and the government has alleged that it seized more than 7,000 counterfeit devices that, if genuine, would be worth more than $13 million.
In May 2022, federal law enforcement arrested the first of these co-conspirators and charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“These guilty pleas are a testament to what we are able to accomplish when brands, law enforcement, and Amazon work together,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “Counterfeiters are beginning to see that if you attempt to defraud brands, Amazon, or our customers, the consequences are severe. We continue to express our gratitude for the collaboration with Cisco and the work of the Department of Justice.”
This follows a previous action from Amazon’s CCU to hold fraudsters accountable, where the first individual found guilty faces four to six years in prison and forfeiture of $15 million.
Al Palladin, head of global brand protection at Cisco said in regards to that case, “We are committed to protecting our valued customers and legitimate authorized Cisco channel partners, and maintaining the integrity and quality of Cisco products and services. We thank our colleagues in U.S. law enforcement and the Department of Justice for their investigative actions, the successful indictment, and the work that led to today’s outcome. The Cisco Brand Protection team also appreciates the strong collaboration with Amazon’s CCU for jointly making the criminal referral that brought this individual to justice.”
Amazon is pleased to see that the Department of Justice has had these three co-conspirators also plead guilty to their crimes, and look forward to these convicted criminals being held accountable for their actions.
Amazon continues to make significant progress in the fight against counterfeiters by holding bad actors accountable, and stopping counterfeit items from ever entering our store and the supply chain. A combination of Amazon’s proactive controls and the enforcement against those who attempt to evade those controls is having a substantial impact on eliminating counterfeits. In 2022, while Amazon’s store expanded, the number of valid notices of infringement decreased by more than 35% from the previous year. This shows that Amazon’s robust seller vetting, proactive systems, and efforts to hold bad actors accountable are deterring criminals from attempting to sell counterfeits in the first place.
August 22, 2023
Amazon files lawsuit against video piracy ring
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) filed a lawsuit targeting a global piracy ring that operates at least seven websites selling counterfeit and pirated DVDs that infringe on Prime Video content and illegally use registered Amazon trademarks and artwork on the DVDs. The scheme not only negatively impacts Amazon, but also the artists who produced the content, and the consumers who believe they are buying authentic products.
The defendants in this case operated the business DVD Shelf, which was central to the piracy and infringement scheme. One of the websites operated by DVD Shelf, dvd-wholesale.com, boasted that it was the “leading DVD distributor company in the U.S.” and “sell[s] top quality DVDs at factory price.”
DVD Shelf and the associated websites offered DVDs of Amazon Original series that are currently only available through steaming on Prime Video. Amazon conducted multiple test purchases to confirm that the DVDs were pirated and bore infringing Amazon registered trademarks and artwork.
Amazon also worked with the Motion Picture Association (MPA)—a trade organization that serves as the voice and advocate for the film, home video, streaming, and television industries—which conducted purchases of DVDs of titles of various MPA members to confirm that every test purchased was a pirated version.
In many instances, consumers who purchased products offered by DVD Shelf believed they were purchasing authentic products. One customer left a negative review on the DVD Shelf website saying that, despite the company’s “claim to only sell genuine products,” the DVDs shipped were “of EXTREMELY poor quality.”
“The actions from this global ring of fraudsters not only negatively impacts rightsholders such as Amazon and affected entertainment companies, it also directly impacts the deceived customers, who thought they were receiving the real thing,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “Whether the attempted fraud is within the Amazon store or outside of it, we will continue to pursue bad actors wherever they operate.”
Amazon is dedicated to preventing fake products from ever reaching customers or being sold elsewhere in the supply chain. Amazon and the CCU have established a reputation as a global partner to brands in the fight against counterfeiters, by providing intelligence to law enforcement and aggressive enforcement against bad actors.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California under the case number: 2:23-cv-06886.
July 17, 2023
Amazon cracks down on counterfeit Fire TV remotes in new lawsuit
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) filed a lawsuit against bad actors who attempted to advertise and sell counterfeit Fire TV remotes in the Amazon store, in an effort to deceive customers and infringe on Amazon’s intellectual property rights.
While the CCU often partners with other brands in similar litigation, this is the first lawsuit pursued by the CCU on behalf of the Amazon brand and an Amazon product. In this instance, bad actors attempted to damage both the integrity of the Amazon store and our own products.
Amazon is constantly innovating and improving the tools available to drive the number of counterfeits in our store to zero. As we progress toward that goal, Amazon and the CCU will continue to take direct action against bad actors who attempt to sell counterfeits, regardless of whether those products are from independent brand owners or Amazon’s own products and devices.
Amazon launched its first line of Fire TV devices in 2014 with the goal of reimagining the television experience to make every TV smarter. Today, more than 200 million Fire TV devices have been sold worldwide, and Fire TV customers are streaming billions of hours of content every month. A key component of the Fire TV experience is the Fire TV remote, which helps customers seamlessly navigate and discover content.
Amazon’s internal investigations confirmed that devices sold by the defendants used a counterfeit version of the Amazon Smile trademark but the devices were not manufactured or authorized by Amazon. The counterfeit devices differed in many ways from the authentic device, including the remote’s external and interior plastic body, the buttons, and the components and construction of the printed circuit board.
We followed our standard process for when we detect counterfeiters and blocked the defendants’ accounts, proactively notified customers who we believe purchased counterfeits, and reimbursed the customers’ Amazon accounts.
“In 2022, the CCU worked with dozens of brands to sue or refer for investigation more than 1,300 criminals, but this represents the first time we’ve filed a suit protecting an Amazon product,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. “The suit shows that bad actors are not only targeting independent brand owners, but Amazon products and devices, as well. We are grateful for the partnership with our colleagues at Fire TV as we continue to hold those accountable who would attempt to do harm to Amazon and deceive customers with counterfeit products.”
Amazon employs a host of automated protection technologies to keep counterfeits from ever entering the store. In 2022, our robust systems stopped more than 800,000 bad actor attempts at opening new selling accounts, before they were able to list a single product for sale, and more than 99% of listings suspected of being fraudulent or counterfeit are blocked or removed through Amazon’s automated, proactive protections. Amazon remains committed to pursuing bad actors who attempt to evade our protections and continuing to work to maintain the integrity of the Amazon store.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under the case number 2:23-cv-01060.
June 21, 2023
Therabody and Amazon file a new lawsuit against counterfeiters
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit and Therabody have filed a joint lawsuit against a crime ring that attempted to sell counterfeit Therabody massage devices in the Amazon store through six selling accounts.
Therabody is a leader in the wellness technology space and may be best known for its revolutionary massage device, Theragun. The device was launched in 2016 and is now used by more than 250 professional sports teams, along with physical therapists, trainers, celebrities, and consumers in more than 40 countries worldwide.
With that tremendous growth comes the threat of bad actors attempting to illegally profit from the company’s success. Amazon is committed to protecting the intellectual property rights of its selling partners, of all sizes, and holding accountable any entities that attempt to deceive customers with fake goods.
Amazon employs robust proactive protections to combat attempted counterfeiting and uses powerful tools to protect brands and customers. Therabody is enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, a tool that helps small and large brands alike safeguard their intellectual property, and was actively used to identify and address the attempted counterfeiting.
Therabody invests extensive time and resources into research and development, resulting in the acquisition of over 500 patents. These innovations are a testament to the rigorous testing process the company undergoes with medical professionals to ensure the efficacy and safety of Therabody products. Attempted counterfeiting of the Theragun is not only deceptive to Amazon customers attempting to purchase authentic Therabody products, but it also poses risks to customers, as counterfeits will not have the Theragun patented engineering, quality, and durability that are synonymous with the Therabody brand.
“As the category creator, we produce products that are changing the way people approach health and wellness,” said Monty Sharma, CEO of Therabody. “These proprietary products are developed through extensive research and medical input, and are backed by science and FDA registered. When counterfeit products intentionally trade on Therabody’s name and reputation, they hurt our brand as well as consumers who think they are getting the benefits of a Theragun, but end up with inferior products with very poor standards and efficacy. We are proud to partner with Amazon to stop the sale of any of these fake goods, which rely on both of our brand names to deceive shoppers.”
Working closely with Therabody, Amazon verified that the products in question were inauthentic, swiftly removed relevant selling accounts from the Amazon store, and proactively provided refunds to all affected customers.
“The CCU continues to build on its strong relationships with brands—both big and small—that are united in our effort to address the industrywide issue of counterfeiting,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. “Thank you to Therabody for their collaboration as we take the next step toward holding these fraudsters accountable for their actions.”
Amazon’s CCU has joined forces with household brands such as Brother, Canon, and YETI, as well as small businesses such as FELCO and the manufacturer behind the popular card game Dutch Blitz, to bring lawsuits against counterfeiters. In addition, the CCU actively works with law enforcement to refer criminals for investigation or assist in the direct seizure of counterfeit products at the source.
Learn more about the CCU’s and Amazon’s brand protection efforts commemorating the 25th anniversary of World Anti-Counterfeiting Day.
The Amazon and Therabody joint lawsuit was filed in the federal U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under case number: 2:23-cv-00931.
June 6, 2023
Bad actor who sold Cisco counterfeits faces up to 6.5 years in prison
A Florida man has pleaded guilty to crimes related to the sale of counterfeit Cisco products in stores across the retail industry. Pursuant to his plea agreement with the government, the defendant faces four to six and a half years in prison and has agreed to forfeit $15 million.
Following the government’s investigation and a referral from Cisco and Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, a federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted the defendant, Onur Aksoy, in July 2022.
“This guilty plea sends a strong message to bad actors that selling counterfeits has severe consequences,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. “We are grateful for the collaboration with Cisco and the work of the U.S. Department of Justice to bring this counterfeiter to justice.”
"We are committed to protecting our valued customers and legitimate authorized Cisco channel partners and maintaining the integrity and quality of Cisco products and services,” said Al Palladin, head of global brand protection at Cisco. “We thank our colleagues in U.S. Law Enforcement and the Department of Justice for their investigative actions, the successful indictment, and the work that led to today’s outcome. The Cisco Brand Protection team also appreciates the strong collaboration with Amazon’s CCU for jointly making the criminal referral that brought this individual to justice.”
According to the plea agreement, Aksoy ran numerous separate companies and dozens of online storefronts that imported thousands of counterfeit Cisco products from across the globe to sell in the U.S., generating millions of dollars in illegal sales.
Amazon employs powerful and highly effective proactive efforts to protect Amazon’s store, as well as industry-leading tools enabling rights owners to partner with Amazon to better protect their brands from counterfeits, fraud, and other forms of abuse. In addition, Amazon works closely with brands and law enforcement across the globe to hold bad actors accountable. In the past year alone, Amazon's CCU sued or referred for investigation over 1,300 criminals in the U.S., the UK, across the EU, and in China.
Read the full DOJ release.
May 22, 2023
Amazon and YETI continue the pursuit against counterfeiters with second round of lawsuits
Amazon's CCU and YETI Coolers jointly filed three lawsuits against multiple bad actors for attempting to sell counterfeit YETI products, including YETI’s popular Rambler mug, through four selling accounts in the Amazon store.
“YETI is committed to protecting our customers, our intellectual property rights, and our brand from anyone who profits from the sale of illicit products,” said Bryan Barksdale, YETI’s senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary. “We appreciate and support Amazon’s mission to hold counterfeiters accountable.”
YETI is enrolled in both Amazon Brand Registry and Project Zero, which helped to detect the attempted counterfeiting activity. Once confirmed, Amazon acted immediately to close the relevant selling accounts and refund impacted customers.
Amazon’s investigation uncovered that the fraudulent activity extended beyond the U.S., with one ring of bad actors believed to be operating in Türkiye. Amazon and YETI identified the fraud through the discovery of a falsified invoice submitted to Amazon, which claimed the products in question came from a supplier of authentic YETI products, but the products were actually counterfeit and supplied elsewhere.
“We are pleased to build on this ongoing partnership and collaboration with YETI to combat bad actors,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. “This should serve as a message to all counterfeiters that no matter where you operate, regardless if it’s in the U.S. or abroad, we will hold you accountable for selling counterfeits in the Amazon store.”
The new lawsuits follow previous actions taken by YETI and Amazon in 2020, when the companies jointly filed a lawsuit against two U.S. defendants who operated in concert in their attempts to sell counterfeit YETI products.
Through its partnership with brands of all sizes, Amazon’s CCU is constantly innovating to identify and combat new approaches that counterfeiters take to try to deceive customers and evade the law. The CCU uses that intelligence to equip law enforcement to pursue bad actors. In 2022 alone, the CCU sued or referred for investigation of over 1,300 criminals in the U.S., the UK, the EU, and China.
The lawsuits were filed in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Washington under case numbers:
May 10, 2023
Amazon and Canon file joint lawsuit to protect customers and hold counterfeiters accountable
Amazon’s CCU and Canon Inc. have filed a joint lawsuit against a group of bad actors that attempted to advertise, market, and sell camera batteries and chargers in the Amazon store, with alleged infringement of Canon’s registered trademarks.
When Amazon detected the attempted abuse, the company worked with Canon to confirm the products in question were counterfeits and acted quickly to shut down the 29 selling accounts operated by the defendants.
March 30, 2023
Amazon targets multiple bad actors in novel lawsuits, further protecting selling partners from fraud
Amazon filed three lawsuits against bad actors that pretended to be legitimate copyright owners in an attempt to remove products from the Amazon Store.
For the first time, Amazon’s CCU filed lawsuits against multiple bad actors that, combined, submitted thousands of false copyright infringement claims against Amazon’s selling partners in an effort to have those sellers and their products removed from the Amazon store. These false claims attempted to reduce customer choice, harm Amazon’s selling partners, and damage the integrity of Amazon’s store.
March 2, 2023
Amazon continues to take action against fake review brokers
Amazon filed lawsuits against six defendants in new legal efforts to protect its customers and selling partners by stopping fake review brokers. In each lawsuit, the defendants sell fake review services to bad actors attempting to operate Amazon selling accounts. These fraudsters commit fraud by selling fake reviews, intentionally facilitate activities intended to deceive customers, and attempt to provide unfair competitive advantages over honest sellers in Amazon’s store.
Amazon’s advanced technology and expert investigators stop the vast majority of attempts to publish fake or abusive reviews before they impact customers and honest selling partners. As a result, more than 99% of the products viewed in the store contain only authentic reviews. These lawsuits complement Amazon’s efforts to prevent fake reviews by ensuring that the fraudsters behind them are held accountable and stopped for good
February 23, 2023
Amazon and Brother announce lawsuit to shut down Germany-based counterfeit ring
Amazon and Brother, the business technology solutions provider, announced legal action against eighteen suspected members of a Germany-based counterfeit ring (collectively, the “defendants”), who attempted to deceive customers by selling fake toner cartridges marketed as genuine products. This action is Amazon’s first civil lawsuit filed jointly with a brand against counterfeiters in Europe.
The lawsuit was filed with the Regional Court of Berlin and alleges the defendants colluded to sell fake products and evade Amazon and Brother’s systems. In addition to filing the lawsuit, the companies referred the alleged counterfeit ring to local police.