Amazon warns customers that Align supplements sold on its site are probably fake

  • Amazon has advised customers to throw away Align nutritional supplements sold on site by third parties, because they're probably fake. These supplements are officially sold by the Proctor & Gamble brand. 
  • While counterfeits are not a problem that's unique to Amazon, its large and growing marketplace means that it is highly vulnerable to this, and the task of policing its third-party sellers is becoming more challenging.

  • Earlier this year, it launched a new program to combat counterfeits on the website by working with brands.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon is advising customers to throw away Align nutritional supplements bought on its site after discovering that the products could be fake. 

"If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item," Amazon wrote in an email to customers, according to Wired. Amazon informed these customers that they would be fully refunded for the item.

Align supplements are officially sold by Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods conglomerate. A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment but told Wired that it was aware of the situation and had been informed that Amazon is now only selling Align product that has been received directly from P&G manufacturing facilities.    

RELATED: Take a look at the most valuable brands in the world:

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10 most valuable brands in the world

10. Target

Brand value: $13.67 billion

Percentage change from last year: -20%

Last year's rank: 7

Target is losing value fast as it struggles to keep up with ecommerce focused brands, but is adding new initiatives like same-day delivery of online orders to become more competitive. Even though it's value is down, Target reported same-store sales were up 6.5% in the second quarter.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

9. Lowe's

Brand value: $14.02 billion

Percentage change from last year: +1%

Last year's rank: 9

Lowe's hold's onto the same spot it held last year. Itrecently closed the Orchard Supply Hardware chain it aquired last year to focus on the Lowe's brand.

(Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

8. Walgreens

Brand value: $15.54 billion

Percentage change from last year: -3%

Last year's rank: 8

Walgreens value is down -3% from last year. The company recently reported same-store sales were down by 1.2% at Walgreens in the most recent quarter

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

7. JD.com

Brand value: $19.62 billion

Percentage change from last year: +47%

Last year's rank: 11

JD.com, a Chinese online retail giant, is growing extraordinarily fast — last year, the company didn't even hold a spot in the top 10 most valuable brands. In June, Google announced it would be investing $550 million in JD.com.

(Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

6. CVS Health

Brand value: $20.6 billion

Percentage change from last year: -12%

Last year's rank: 6

CVS Health's value is down, but the company, which is in the midst of a merger with Aetna, recently reported same-store sales were up by 1.6%.

5. Ikea

Brand value: $24.35 billion

Percentage change from last year: +1%

Last year's rank: 5

Ikea remains consistent with the almost the same value as last year. The brand was ranked fifth last year as well.

4. Home Depot

Brand value: $33.74 billion

Percentage change from last year: +12%

Last year's rank: 4

Home Depot holds onto the fouth spot from last year. Home Depot has 2,284 stores in North America, and appears to be the store of choice for millennials. In a Bank of America survey of 1,000 millennials, reported by US News, 64% said Home Depot was their top choice for home-improvement shopping.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

3. Alibaba.com

Brand value: $54.92 billion

Percentage change from last year: +58%

Last year's rank: 3

The Chinese company Alibaba.com is ranked in the same spot as last year, but the e-commerce giants value is up nearly 60%.

(REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

2. Walmart

Brand value: $61.48 billion

Percentage change from last year: -1%

Last year's rank: 2

While Walmart defends the number two ranking, its value remains roughly the same as last year.

1. Amazon

Brand value: $150.81 billion

Percentage change from last year: +42%

Last year's rank: 3

Up 47% from its 2017 value, Amazon is the largest online business by market capitalization and revenue. Beyond being an online retailer, it produces cloud infrastructure and electronics and is present in music and video streaming. In addition, the 2017 $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition took Amazon from the digital to the physical realm.

(REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

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Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider for comment on the incident but in a statement to Wired said that it investigates every claim of potential counterfeit "thoroughly" and often in partnership with brands.

"In the rare instance where a bad actor gets through, we take swift action, including removing the item for sale, permanently banning bad actors, pursuing legal action, and working with law enforcement when appropriate," Amazon wrote in the statement.

While counterfeits are not a problem that's unique to Amazon, its large and growing marketplace means that it is highly vulnerable to fakes, and the art of policing its third-party sellers is becoming more challenging.

In February, Amazon launched Project Zero, a new program to combat counterfeits on its website by working with brands.

"Our aim is that customers always receive authentic goods when shopping on Amazon," Dharmesh M. Mehta, Amazon's VP of consumer trust, said in a statement at the time. "Project Zero builds on our long-standing work and investments in this area. It allows brands to work with us to leverage our combined strengths to move quickly and at scale to drive counterfeits to zero."

The tools to detect counterfeits via Project Zero are only available to brands that are registered on its brand registry. This is also an invite-only service for brands. 

One registered, brands have the power to remove any counterfeit listing they find without having to report it to Amazon. They also have the option to provide Amazon with key data about their brand such as logos and trademarks, Amazon will then scan product listings using this information to look for suspected counterfeits.

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