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Forget fake news. What about fake sales?
Americans are upset about fake news stories, but they are seething mad when it comes to fake sales online. Amazon, keenly aware of the problem through customer complaints, is fighting that battle in court. One of its retailers won a $6.8 million verdict against another that had used Amazon to sell knock-off fitness gear.
"This jury award should serve as a notice to all those determined to engage in intellectual property infringement or other similar unlawful activity that they are not beyond the reach of justice by federal court juries," said Paul Zadoff, president of TRX for Fitness Anywhere about its win against WOSS Enterprises.
Amazon helped Fitness Anywhere and is cracking down on other fakes online. In November, Amazon filed two lawsuits against more than 20 companies and individuals for allegedly selling knock-off equipment and furniture.
The War Is Far From Over
The war is far from over, however, as Amazon scams appear to be on the rise. According to Forbes, fraudulent sellers are running amok and profiting big time. The magazine says it works like this:
A seller opens a new account and selects popular items to "sell," using Amazon's platform. They then list those items for discounted prices.
"When the orders come rolling in they almost immediately claim that the items have left the seller facility and are in transit to the carrier -- which releases the payment to their account," Wade Shepard wrote. "But they don't actually ever ship out anything."
Amazon knows about the problem because of customer complaints, including fake customer reviews. The company filed a handful of lawsuits to stop the fake reviews, but now is focusing on the fake merchants.
Emily Wilcox, a co-owner of a baby clothing company, said it's about time Amazon did something. She said her company depends almost entirely on Amazon sales, and had to hire a contract worker to chase down counterfeiters.
"If Amazon is going to continue to be a nice platform for sellers and a place for people to build brands, we need that type of support," she said.
In addition to suing for breach of contract and false advertising, Amazon asks the court for permanent injunctions to ban the defendants and their employees from selling on the company's websites. According to the complaints, the defendants often change their identities and use offshore accounts to defraud customers.