Online sales of counterfeit goods flummox officials

By Anh Minh   August 25, 2019 | 05:23 am PT
Online sales of counterfeit goods flummox officials
Over 35,900 counterfeit and illegal products had been removed from e-commerce websites by the end of 2018. Photo by Shutterstock/Backgroundy.
Vietnamese authorities are struggling to deal with online sales of fake and contraband products, with several tricks used to avoid detection.

A report released late this week by the Ministry of Industry and Trade said online sales of counterfeit goods remained a problem despite 35,900 fake and illegal products being removed from e-commerce websites as of last year.

Over 3,000 seller accounts have been blocked for selling these items, it added.

"The sale of fake, illegally imported and banned items is widespread on e-commerce websites and social networks such as Facebook and YouTube. This is causing distrust among consumers," Tran Huu Linh, deputy head of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, said at a Friday meeting.

Sellers usually advertise fake products with images of real products and offer lower prices, Linh said, adding that this particularly happens with cosmetics and functional foods.

Sellers have one trading address but keep their goods at multiple locations, making it harder for authorities to examine them, he added.

"Some trading locations are in apartment buildings, which require search warrants, delaying the investigation."

Online transactions usually do not have bills, therefore investigating the source of the counterfeit foods is a challenge, he added.

Dang Hoang Hai, head of the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA), said that fraudsters use multiple tricks to avoid being discovered, for example listing the product as "N.I.K.E" instead of "Nike."

Some have servers placed in another country and website domains bought through a foreign service without any real address and phone numbers to contact in Vietnam, Hai said.

The technical capability and skills of officers in the agency have not caught up with fast-developing technologies to identify fraudsters, he added.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh proposed making changes in the law that will require online channels to manage their products and prevent counterfeiting.

Buying via online shopping channels and social networks has become increasing popular in Vietnam in recent years. Online sales in Vietnam last year rose by 30 percent over 2017 to top $8 billion, accounting for 5 percent of retail sales, according to the trade ministry.

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