Christmas Shoppers Beware: U.S. Law Can’t Protect You from Dangerous Counterfeits on Amazon and eBay

Throughout the years that I invested in China I can keep in mind various celebrations where I would be looking for something on Taobao or another Chinese e-commerce website and have a Chinese good friend examine my shoulder and ask if I ‘d like some help. This deal typically wasn’t flexible, they were essentially stating, “You’re an immigrant and have no idea the best ways to shop online in China and it’s my obligation to save you.” Most of the time, they were proper.

At that time, online shopping in China was much different than in the United States. The Chinese platforms had lots of fraudsters, counterfeiters,and items where there was no other way to inform if they truly were what it stated in the plan. These websites were so infamous that when I would go back to the United States I ‘d breathe a sigh of relief that I might once again purchase items with self-confidence from tested American e-commerce platforms like Amazon.

These days are no more. As Chinese e-commerce websites like Taobao punished counterfeiters– getting rid of 380 million products and 180,000 merchants– Amazon, eBay,and Walmart opened their doors and welcomed them right in, deteriorating their own markets into cesspools of fake, phony, possibly harmful, and otherwise uncontrolled items. According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, China is the source of 86% of the world’s fakes. According to Marketplace Pulse, Chinese sellers now make up 25% of Amazon’s U.S. market. There is a direct connection here.

Legal impunity for everybody

In 2015, Amazon won a claim that eliminated them from legal liability for what 3rd party suppliers offered on their website, and this choice– maybe not coincidentally– accompanied a huge push to get more Chinese suppliers selling to people in the United States– consisting of the developing of an unique maritime arrangement which enables Chinese merchants to deliver complete container loads of items directly to Amazon’s U.S. storage facilities. That, integrated with the USPS’s policy of offering Chinese merchants with subsidized shipping rates (allowing them to send by mail parcels to the United States less expensive than it costs to send by mail the very same parcel locally), means that U.S. markets were opened broad for the specific very same “bad stars” who have long contaminated China’s e-commerce community.

If taking part in cross-border e-commerce, copyright, trademark,and customer security laws not apply; the transgressors of the criminal activities are outside the legal jurisdiction of U.S. courts and Amazon and eBay cannot yet be held liable. E-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart do not have reliable vetting systems for new sellers, U.S. customs is not able to appropriately evaluate parcels coming in from abroad, and the American legal system is embarrassingly inefficient at safeguarding its people from foreign wrongdoers delivering in prohibited products. In this environment, fake and unsafe items circulation easily over U.S. borders and into the houses of U.S. residents, and no one with any power appears prepared or able to do anything about it.

Purchaser beware

When shopping online in the United States, the mantra of the day is plain “purchaser beware.”. Over the previous 6 years Craig Crosby he has been leading a motion versus the $1.7 trillion annually criminal counterfeiting business by means of The Counterfeit Report, a customer advocacy company that has been included on ABC, NBC, CBS, Al-Jazeera, Fox News TELEVISION, 20/20, along with here on Forbes.com. He runs a group of scientists and engineers who not only find, determine, and verify fakes from many sources, but also gathers them also– bagging and tagging them to the requirements of police in case they are ever required as proof in the numerous suits that he takes part in.

To name a few things, Crosby and his group has found the following products being offered to Americans through our huge e-commerce websites: Gucci, Chanel, Prada perfumes which contain urine, germs, antifreeze, beryllium (a carcinogen), cadmium, and lead; “Apple” chargers that catch on fire; 1.8 million phony “main U.S. armed force” tourniquets that have the tendency to break when used; smoke alarm that are absolutely nothing but plastic boxes with push button alarms; fake Phillip halogen auto headlights; and bee pollen laced with methamphetamine.

“That’s sort of cool,” he jested, “I’m going to go try bee pollen as a supplement to see if it makes me feel much better and, wow, I feel excellent! I’m taking methamphetamine! What an excellent supplement!” Altering his tone, Crosby then informed me about an inquiry that he got from a school who sent out 30 kids home with battery chargers for their iPads which consequently captured a few of their beds on fire.

Beyond that, Amazon has been struck with a class action claim for helping with the sale of solar eclipse glasses from China that didn’t work, a lady in the U.K. had her eyes glued nearby fake makeup she purchased on eBay, and Mark Elliot of the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Center mentioned that “From phony medications to bad brakes and lead-laden toys, fake products posture a real threat to customers and a pricey danger to business neighborhood,” in a landmark report entitled Measuring the Magnitude of Global Counterfeiting.