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Strategically Tackling Counterfeit Gangs at their source: A Proactive Strategy in 2023

Today organisations are in a constant battle against malicious actors online, including sophisticated counterfeit gangs. Whether these fraudsters are counterfeiting their products, scamming their customers, or launching attacks against their websites, the online fight organisations face every day is endless, time-consuming, and heavily draining on resources. This means very few organisations have the power to defend against every malicious actor targeting their business, so tackling the most damaging threats at their source is often the best strategy.  

When thinking about this in the context of counterfeiting, the biggest threats to brands come from criminal counterfeit gangs that build enterprises out of fake products. 

Outsmart Counterfeit Gangs

Counterfeiting is undoubtedly one of the world’s largest underworld economies and recent data highlights that trillions of dollars’ worth of fake goods are sold every year. Given these lucrative earning opportunities, it’s not surprising that counterfeit sellers are growing in numbers too. Due to sheer volume, this makes it all but impossible for organisations to fight them alone. This means organisations must work to tackle gangs of counterfeiters, rather than individual sellers, in order to deliver the biggest impact. 

Unfortunately, counterfeit gangs are rife today and they operate across multiple platforms globally, making them extremely dangerous to brands and their customers. The monopoly they have on ecommerce platforms means they possess the ability to reach millions of consumers. If that weren’t enough, even if one platform bans them, an untargeted enforcement strategy can mean they simply move on or pop up with a new account, protected by their vast network. 

From a brand point of view, these types of sellers are very concerning. Firstly, brands are having their products ripped off and their IP infringed, damaging their reputation. Secondly, given illegal sellers often have large counterfeit stocks, fake sales divert genuine brand revenues which can impact their bottom line. Thirdly, and just as importantly, counterfeits are rarely made with care or concern for their end-users.

Fake goods do not go through rigorous health and safety testing. Nor are they forced to comply with the mandatory safety regulations that legitimate brands must rigorously adhere to. This means while legitimate brands spend thousands putting products through their paces to ensure that stringent quality standards are met or exceeded, fake products often contain illegal ingredients which can pose a very real danger to consumers. 

How to fight gangs of sellers

Given these dire threats, when it comes to tackling counterfeits, organisations must put their efforts into dismantling counterfeit gangs and tackle the problem at the source. But how can this be achieved? 

To tackle gangs of sellers, brands must think about hitting the top of the seller chain. This can be achieved by monitoring for illegitimate listings and cross-analysing for seller patterns. 

Discovering these rogue operations is complex and requires an in-depth investigation, focusing on key elements including:  

  • Cross-matching seller identifiers, business licences, VAT numbers, and IP addresses. 
  • Analysing product description similarities, including language style and image selection. 
  • Studying the chronology of infringing sales and sellers. For example, if identical listings appear soon after shutting down a seller account, either on the original platform or elsewhere, it may indicate that the original gang has created a fresh account. 

Such analysis is time consuming and requires automated expertise to help target gangs in real-time. To help empower brands in this way, tools such as SnapDragon Monitoring’s in-house AI-powered software, Swoop, offer Seller Insights which highlight the most infringing sellers, capturing the metadata captured from the source platform, while noting identical seller names and tax codes across multiple platforms. This can be used to assess risk and target resources effectively – from compiling data for immediate enforcement, through to serious legal action. 

Counterfeits are a major threat to all organisations today, and the best way to weed out fakes is by continuously monitoring the web for copycats – before they harm brands and consumers. What’s more, while no infringing seller should be left untouched, going after the most prominent sellers will always deliver the biggest impact.    

This process is rewarding but can be time consuming, labour intensive and costly when left in-house – which is where SnapDragon can help. Our team of multilingual brand protection experts search the world’s busiest sites using our AI-powered software for infringements. Providing a targeted approach across ecommerce, social media and domains, SnapDragon helps identify and remove any scammers before causing further harm – protecting reputations, revenues and customers. 

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