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Amazon Settles With Influencers Behind Social Media Counterfeit Scheme

Amazon reached a settlement Thursday with two social media influencers it had previously sued for promoting counterfeit luxury fashion goods on its site.

The e-commerce giant filed its original lawsuit against Kelly Fitzpatrick, Sabrina Kelly-Krejci and 11 others last November. It accused the group of advertising, promoting and facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods in its store.

According to Amazon, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci would post side-by-side photos on apps like Instagram or TikTok of generic, non-branded product and luxury imitations, accompanied by the caption, “Order this/Get this.” By posting only generic products on its marketplace, Amazon said, the pair attempted to evade its anti-counterfeit protections while using social media to promote the true nature of their products.

Both influencers agreed to “fully and unconditionally cooperate” with Amazon’s investigation of and legal action against the remaining defendants, as well as other “bad actors” involved with the promotion and sale of counterfeit goods. They also “apologized” for their actions, Amazon said.

“I would warn others engaged in similar conduct on social media that there will be serious consequences for their actions,” Fitzpatrick said.

The agreement prohibits Fitzpatrick—a former member of the Amazon Influencer Program—and Kelly-Krejci from directly or indirectly marketing, advertising, linking to, promoting or selling any products of any kind on Amazon’s store without the company’s written authorization.

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As part of Thursday’s settlement, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci will make settlement payments to Amazon. The business said it will donate the money to charities, including the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Unreal Campaign, a consumer awareness initiative created to educate 14- to 23-year-olds about the importance of intellectual property rights.

“We are pleased that this settlement has resulted in the individuals recognizing the harm they caused, assistance for our investigation moving forward and that charities will benefit from the recovered funds,” Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, said in a statement. “This settlement sends a strong message to would-be bad actors that Amazon will find you and hold you fully accountable.”

Since launching its Counterfeit Crimes Unit in June of last year, Amazon has filed a series of lawsuits against counterfeiters, including joint lawsuits with HanesBrands and luxury goods company Salvatore Ferragamo.

In November, it introduced an additional two anti-counterfeiting initiatives: the Intellectual Property Accelerator and Operation Fulfilled Action. The former—first launched in select European countries and since expanded globally—provides tools for small- and medium-sized businesses to obtain trademarks, protect their brands and tackle counterfeit goods. The latter is a joint operation with the U.S. government’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and DHL designed to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country.

According to a report Amazon released in May, the company invested more than $700 million in fraud protection efforts last year, including employing more than 10,000 people tasked with stopping the abuse. An augmented verification process halted 6 million attempts to create fake accounts—more than double 2019’s 2.5 million. The company also said it seized more than 2 million products that were sent to its fulfillment centers and blocked more than 10 billion listings it suspected were fraudulent.