eCommerce giant Amazon is suing two influencers and a dozen third-party sellers for false advertising, promotion and selling of counterfeit luxury products on its marketplace.
Amazon alleges that the two influencers, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci, worked in conjunction with the third-party sellers and 11 other individuals and businesses based in China and the U.S. to source and sell fake products on Amazon. The influencers used their Instagram, Facebook and TikTok accounts, along with their personal websites, to promote the counterfeit products they listed on Amazon.
While Amazon has programs in place that detect sales of fake products, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci and their partners plotted a sophisticated scheme that enabled them to sidestep Amazon’s counterfeit-detection systems and sell counterfeit wallets, purses, bags and from the likes of designer labels such as Dior and Gucci, according to CNBC.
According to the lawsuit, Fitzpatrick was previously a member of the Amazon Associate program, which allows influencers and other marketers to make commissions on sales of Amazon products that they choose to promote on their platforms. The company removed her from its influencer program after it learned that Fitzpatrick was advertising fake products that were listed on Amazon.
However, Fitzpatrick’s removal from the program did little to stop selling and promoting fake products on Amazon. Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci continued to market those fake Amazon listings on their website and their social media accounts, directing their followers to purchase them using a “hidden link,” which allowed them to pay for a generic, non-infringing item on Amazon but instead get the product that they were promoting.
“As Fitzpatrick explains to her followers, a ‘hidden link’ means ‘you order a certain product that looks nothing like the designer dupe in order to hide the item from getting taken [by Amazon] and orders being canceled,’” Amazon noted in its complaint, quoting Fitzpatrick’s post on her website Stylee and Grace.
As of Wednesday this week, the influencers continued to encourage their followers to shop for those counterfeit products using hidden links that they were sharing through newly created social media accounts. They previously even encouraged their followers to shop for knock off products on other marketplaces such as Etsy and DH Gate.
Amazon is reportedly seeking unspecified damages along with an injunction that would ban them from promoting or selling any products sold on the Amazon website.