How counterfeits enter the supply chain at companies like Amazon and Best Buy
On the XDA forum, a user had bought a counterfeit OtterBox but was stunned on how it happened. The user had known that the internet is full of counterfeit OtterBox cell phone cases, so he had bought the case at Best Buy to avoid getting a fake. After the purchase at Best Buy, the user thought the case looked fake. He posted on the forum thread and was referred by another user to Stigma Search’s counterfeit guide. From that guide he was able to tell that the case was indeed fake. But he asked how did Best Buy sell him a counterfeit?
There is a popular scam out there that target stores like Amazon or other companies such as Best Buy that accept returns for any reason at all. This return policy has its pros and cons. For example, a friend of mine managers the whole best buy department. He says that during the month leading up to the annual Super Bowl, customers will buy a brand new TV, watch the sports game and then return it to Best Buy. Since they do not charge a restocking fee unless the manage feels its right, most customers get to rent a TV for free for a whole month. This return policy is also exploited by counterfeiters and those looking for a quick buck.
The scam: The scheme is very easy to do and is fairly common considering all the stories I see of people buying counterfeit and fake merchandise at stores like Best Buy. Since these companies accept returns for any reason, the scammer will buy a real OtterBox or similar item and return a counterfeit one. They then would sell the real one. For a $60 cell phone case, they can return a $5 fake and make off with a $55 profit. Since Best Buy has no system to look for counterfeits on low cost items and it is cost ineffective to train their personal to look for fakes, their return system is abused by scammers. Happens to Amazon way more often since they are a online store and a scammer does not even have to go to the store.
How to stop it: There really is nothing you can do to stop these returns if you have a open return policy such as Amazon’s. Stopping these types of fraud takes extra money for training and time used to inspect returns, thus not making it cost effective. However if you do not implement some type of anti-counterfeiting return policy you may upset customers who will not trust your store anymore. That is actually the most common outcome I see. For the forum post, the user just bought directly from OtterBox and said he would be more careful when buying items from Best Buy.