If you've shopped at Amazon, you've probably run across a product that is a counterfeit. Fake Apple chargers, earbuds, Vera Bradley purses, batteries, SD cards and Yeezy shoes have been spotted but still purchased by shoppers.

Amazon has announced it created a Counterfeit Crimes Unit to not only investigate products and sellers, but to bring them to prosecution and justice.

Amazon says its first objective is to prevent a counterfeit from ever being listed in its store. That is a challenge due to the billions of items for sale on the site.

According to the website "The Counterfeit Report," counterfeiters will produce $1.7 trillion in fake products each year that are sold online at retailers from around the world.

It has found fake Duracell batteries, Monster cables, Nikon cameras, Gillette razors along with products identified with the brands Adidas, Tide, Polo, Converse and Tommy Bahama. Those fakes are found not only at Amazon, but at Groupon, Craig's List, eBay, Walmart and Facebook.

Amazon has been fighting fakes for years, suing companies in 2018 for selling fake Apple cables and Louis Vuitton purses.

In 2019, Amazon invested over $500,000 and hired 8,000 employees to spot fakes. The company claims the efforts blocked over 6 billion suspected fake products from being sold and blocked 2.5 million suspected bad accounts.

In its announcement, Dharmesh Mehta, VP of Customer Trust and Partner Support from Amazon stated: "We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, and we applaud the law enforcement authorities who are already part of this fight."

Mehta added, "We urge governments to give these authorities the investigative tools, funding and resources they need to bring criminal counterfeiters to justice because criminal enforcement, through prosecution and other disruption measures such as freezing assets, is one of the most effective ways to stop them."

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit will be made up of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators and data analysts.

In the meantime, there are a few ways to spot possible fake products:

- They're often cheaper in price by at least a few dollars.

- They're often either sold and shipped by a third party rather than by Amazon.

- Customer reviews, especially ones that include a photo of the product may give a good indication.

If you do purchase a product suspected of being counterfeit, leave a review for other shoppers to see before making a purchase decision, and report the item to Amazon. You should also demand a refund.

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