Alibaba escalates fight against fake products

China’s largest eCommerce company Alibaba has developed technology to counter the problem of fake products.

It has also set up a 2000-employee division to crack down on counterfeit goods.

An incident in April initiated the crackdown, when Alibaba spotted a network selling counterfeit Samsung RAM devices. The scam involved three online stores, whose sales revenue over three months totalled more than RMB1 million (US$144,000), says Alibaba.

After Alibaba’s discovery, police spent three months investigating the fraud, eventually raiding 13 manufacturing and sales sites and confiscating more than 15,000 counterfeit RAM devices valued at more than RMB120 million.

Despite this, the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition revoked Alibaba’s membership in May because of concerns from international brands, some of which, including Gucci and Tiffany, revoked their membership.

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma assured investors the following month that the company would be the champion should there be a competition to spot fake products between Alibaba’s Tmall, rival JD.com and offline companies.

Meanwhile, Alibaba has been participating in Operation Cloud Sword, an effort by the Zhejiang provincial government to tackle the issue of rampant counterfeit products.

Abnormalities detected

Alibaba says it has developed scanning and detection models powered by big data. The models detect abnormalities in online stores on its eCommerce platforms, including Taobao, by analysing a range of factors such as IP addresses and suspicious customer reviews.

The company says stores selling fake products tend to use Taobao’s basic template. And as most criminals use someone else’s certificate of identification, Alibaba’s technology identifies related accounts using the same internet environment – the same computer or Wi-Fi router – to uncover real identities.

Aside from RAM devices, the local government in the eastern Chinese city of Pinghu seized RMB30 million worth of fake cigarettes in July, with the help of Alibaba’s big-data technology.

To trace the source and production locations of counterfeit goods, Alibaba collects pertinent logistics information and other data throughout the capital chain via Alibaba’s AliPay, a sign the tech giant’s anti-counterfeit technology efforts have expanded from online to offline, reports tech site E27.

The technology has also helped in a cross-border counterfeit goods crackdown. Customs officers in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo used Alibaba’s big-data technology in March to identify counterfeit pesticide products being exported to Cambodia.

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