In the past year, the HP Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud (ACF) team confiscated over 4.5 million fraudulent print products, parts and components – including large numbers of ink and toner cartridges - in raids across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia-Pacific and the Americas.
The seizures took place between November 2019 and October 2020, during a year where COVID-19 created extraordinary challenges in the battle against fake print supplies around the world.
Between government shutdowns, labour shortages, and changes in custom control priorities, criminal networks have adjusted their strategies to take advantage of the evolving landscape. E-commerce has become intensely exploited as consumers and businesses turn to online shopping. HP’s ACF team had to quickly adapt to find new ways to protect its customers from these illicit e-traders – leading to 224,000 de-listings of counterfeit cartridges from online marketplaces.
Throughout 2020, the HP ACF team worked closely with its customers and channel partners to carry out over 1,700 Customer Delivery Inspections (CDIs) and Channel Partner Protection Audits (CPPAs) across all regions. Conducted in a COVID-19 safe and secure way, these ensured customers continue to receive authentic HP print supply products. The team continued to train and educate partners on anti-counterfeiting through online events reaching more than 6,700 stakeholders, partners and customers from around the world.
“The online marketplace was already becoming increasingly more important, however, with restrictions on physical retail locations due to the pandemic, more people are turning to buying and selling online – including bad actors who can hide behind the veil of secrecy that the Internet provides.” said Glenn Jones, Head of HP’s Global Anti-Counterfeiting Programme. “Now more than ever, technology plays an important role in identifying and stopping counterfeiters. From continued investments in online monitoring tools, the utilisation of big data in discovering fakes, and improvements in our track and trace technology, HP continues to innovate new ways to protect our customers.”
Additional 2020 successes by HP’s Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud team in EMEA include:
· Seizing 1 million illegitimate print supplies and delisting over 135,000 online offers in the region
· Stopping the potential sale of 54,000 counterfeit toner and ink cartridges in Nigeria – the largest seizure in EMEA in 2020
· Issuing over 500 ACF guidance kits to help HP staff, partners and customers combat fakes
· Evolving track and trace technologies to fight against sales of illicit print supplies. Toner cartridges continue to be the highest counterfeit item, accounting for over 75% of the seizure value in FY20
“As pandemic restrictions are lifted and employees return to the office, IT decision makers must remain vigilant and wary of cheap office products flooding the market that could be fakes,” added Jones. “There must be a shared responsibility between brands, service providers and e-commerce platforms to ensure that the products being sold are legitimate. By working closely with our channel partners and distributors, we can reduce the instances of counterfeit products reaching the customer.”
Counterfeiting is a crime. For users, such illegal imitations can cause a multitude of problems that can result in performance and reliability issues. Should a printer break because of using counterfeit printer ink or toner, the manufacturer’s warranty may become invalid.
In contrast, original HP products are designed to meet HP’s strict quality and reliability standards, based on a long history of innovation, research and testing. Original HP LaserJet and HP inkjet cartridges, unlike counterfeits, benefit from outstanding performance and consistent results.
Last month, HP announced that in January 2021, local authorities conducted a major raid targeting a large-scale warehouse complex in the Emirate of Ajman. As a result, officials were able to secure over 72,000 illegitimate items from the warehouse, halting their sale in the UAE market. This follows a series of successful raids in November and December 2020 which saw HP shut down several counterfeiting operations in Egypt, seizing 8,500 illicit items in quick succession.