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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Retailers are fighting online anonymity to stop stolen goods from being resold on the internet.

Driving the news: CEOs of nearly two dozen retail companies threw their weight today behind legislation aimed at marketplaces like Amazon and eBay in a letter to congressional leaders.

  • The INFORM Consumers Act would require online giants to verify sellers and enable buyers to verify sellers and to see contact information.

Why it matters: Organized retail crime has spread as the pace of online shopping reached record levels throughout the pandemic

  • That fever pitch, experts and retailers say, has amplified incentives for reselling stolen goods. 
  • “It's become a low-risk crime,” says Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Catch up quick: Retailers see $45 billion in annual losses, up from $30 billion a decade ago, according to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, a retail loss prevention and law enforcement trade group.

  • Flash mobs have targeted retail chains ranging from CVS, Home Depot and Target to Nordstrom, Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
  • Everything from furniture and electronics to beauty products and over-the-counter drugs has shown up on large platforms like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp and Amazon, according to local reports around the country.

If passed, the INFORM Act could make theft harder, says Dodge.

  • Today, those thieves can sell products to unsuspecting customers, he adds, “hiding behind fake usernames and untraceable email addresses rather than legitimate kinds of business information that any other operating business would have to provide — like a name.”

What they’re saying: Amazon has said it supports the House version of the bill, while also saying it opposes legislation that has goals of favoring "large brick-and-mortar retailers at the expense of small businesses that sell online."

  • Facebook declined to comment on the bills.

Be smart: Where the House and Senate bills differ — the Senate version would require sellers with high volume to be verified, which could make compliance more difficult.

Go deeper

Dec 17, 2021 - Health

Scoop: Amazon Pharmacy leaders demoted

TJ Parker (left) and Elliot Cohen in 2015. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Amazon Pharmacy leaders TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen have quietly been demoted to roles as consultants for the company, two sources familiar with the matter tell Axios. 

Why it matters: The leadership shakeup could either be an attempt at hammering out a clearer path forward or a sign of deeper troubles. Parker and Cohen have steered Amazon Pharmacy since 2018 when the tech giant acquired PillPack, their prescription drug startup. 

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
47 mins ago - Economy & Business

Peloton's wild ride and possible buyers

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Peloton is having a bumpy ride, and has become a source of fascination among even those who've never invested or clipped in.

Driving the news: On Monday, a hedge fund with less than a 5% stake in Peloton called for CEO John Foley to be fired and for the connected fitness company to consider seeking a strategic buyer. Shares gained nearly 10% on the news, but remained down 16.2% for the year and off 80% their December 2020 peak.

Scoop: Republicans probe NBC over Beijing Olympics coverage

Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have sent a letter to NBC Universal executives voicing concerns about "the extent of influence the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) may have over NBCUniversal’s coverage of the games."

Why it matters: The human rights abuses committed by the CCP have been the subject of intense scrutiny ahead of this year's Winter Games in Beijing. Activists last year sent a letter to NBC executives urging the network to cancel plans to cover the Olympics.

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