Fake FBI badges sold on Amazon

E-commerce giant Amazon is allegedly selling fake FBI, Secret Service and other replica police badges and identification on its platform, according to The Counterfeit Report.

The group, which campaigns to promote awareness of counterfeit products, claims that Amazon is more interested in profit than its "illusory" anti-counterfeit policy that states: "The sale of counterfeit products, including any products that have been illegally replicated, reproduced, or manufactured, is strictly prohibited."

The badges and ID could be used by terrorists, child predators and other criminals for nefarious purposes, the consumer advocacy group says.

It has published photos of genuine badges and the fake counterparts "easily purchased" from Amazon, and asks readers whether they can identify which ones are real. The images appear to be very similar and to an untrained eye it would be difficult to determine whether the badges were fake or real.

A search on Amazon reveals several listings for FBI and Secret Service badges and associated police paraphernalia.

"The use of the word 'Secret Service' on commercial products without written permission of the director of the United States Secret Service is a crime," the group says. "Federal law has protected the FBI seal against unauthorised commercial use, including use of the words 'Federal Bureau of Investigation' or the initialism 'F.B.I.' since 1954. Unauthorised use of the seal is subject to federal criminal prosecution under prohibited by 18 US §701 and §709."

The group adds: "Terrorism is in the forefront of public safety concerns daily, yet Amazon allows current style replica FBI and US Secret Service badges on its website, which were easily purchased by The Counterfeit Report… 18,000 US federal, state and local law enforcement agencies employ 1.1 million men and women who rely on easily recognisable identification to secure public trust and reassure confidence. The consequences or misuse of counterfeits is indisputable."

The group says it is "shocking" that these listings have been allowed on Amazon and claims the e-commerce site's vetting and anti-counterfeiting measures are inadequate and make it difficult for the public to identify fakes.

"It is disturbing that Amazon has now become the means of those looking for fake law enforcement badges and identification to have a 'one stop' shopping market for fake items. Public trust is destroyed when companies don't align themselves with ethical behaviour and diligence in protecting consumers, the public and national security."

The Counterfeit Report, which sent infringement notices to Amazon for 12,699 infringing items offered on the website in 2016, says it had approached the online marketplace for comment regarding the bogus law enforcement badges but no response was provided.

Last year, it also notified eBay that "dozens" of fake badges and credentials were available on its website. eBay dismissed the consumer group's claims and allegedly blocked The Counterfeit Report's test purchase accounts.

There have been a number of cases in the US where counterfeit badges and false credentials have been used, which The Counterfeit Report notes. In 2015, a man used a fake Homeland Security Investigations badge to enter the Naval Nuclear Training Command in South Carolina, and in 2014, a man unsuccessfully tried to gain access to a secure area of Reagan National Airport using a fake CIA badge.

About 100 people a year are caught committing serious crimes while posing as NYPD police, according to the New York Daily News.

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