Amazon sues social media influencers for promoting fake goods
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San Francisco - Amazon has filed lawsuit against 13 individuals and businesses including two social media influencers for allegedly advertising, promoting, and facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods in Amazon's store, in violation of the company's policies and the law.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington and alleges the defendants operated in concert with each other to sell counterfeit products and engage in false advertising, Amazon said on Thursday.
Among the 13 defendants, the lawsuit alleged that Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci conspired with sellers to evade Amazon's anti-counterfeiting protections by promoting counterfeit products on Instagram and TikTok as well as their own websites.
Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci posted side-by-side photos of a generic, non-branded product and a luxury counterfeit product with the text, "Order this/Get this."
"Order this" referred to the generic product falsely advertised on Amazon, and "Get this" referred to the counterfeit luxury product.
By posting only generic products on Amazon, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci -- and the sellers they coordinated with -- attempted to evade Amazon's anti-counterfeit protections while using social media to promote the true nature of these counterfeit products, Amazon said.
Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci also posted numerous videos describing the alleged high quality of the counterfeits they promoted.
"These defendants were brazen about promoting counterfeits on social media and undermined the work of legitimate influencers," Cristina Posa, Associate General Counsel and Director, Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit, said in a statement.
"This case demonstrates the need for cross-industry collaboration in order to drive counterfeiters out of business," Posa said, adding that social media sites must vet, monitor, and take action on bad actors that are using their services to facilitate illegal behaviour.
Fitzpatrick was previously a member of the Amazon Influencer Program, but after Amazon detected her counterfeiting activities, she was removed from the program.
She continued to advertise counterfeits using social media sites and directed followers to her own website.
Amazon said it also detected and blocked Kelly-Krejci's scheme and she similarly began to direct her followers to purchase counterfeits on her own website.
Saying that it strictly prohibits counterfeit products in its stores, Amazon said it invested more than $500 million in 2019 alone to protect customers and brands from fraud, abuse, and counterfeit.