A Marketplaces Perspective to Bad Actor Seasonality 

  • Brand Protection
A Marketplaces Perspective to Bad Actor Seasonality 

The Golden Quarter is one of the most important periods of the year for retailers, with flash sales, short campaigns, and price promotions bringing a surge of sales and opportunity.

Consumers are spending more time online, extending their trust across both global and local marketplaces in search of the best deals, leaving them more at risk of being targeted by bad actors.  

Bad actors are as prepared for the Golden Quarter as legitimate businesses, with November boasting the highest volume of illicit listing enforcements on online marketplaces.  

As more businesses begin to partake in commercial events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the opportunities for bad actors to trick, scam and steal potential revenue and profits away from your brand, increase.  

Read on to learn why bad actors are so active during the Golden Quarter period and why the marketplace ecosystem is at the center of their efforts. 

What is a bad actor? 

Bad actors are those that steal your IP and brand likeness to sell fake products, promote scams, and otherwise illegitimately generate profit off your hard work. They’re not always outside of your supply chain either – they can be ‘insiders’ creating more supply than contracted or selling outside of agreed markets.  

Some of the most common IP and brand threats they pose are:  

How bad actors gear up for the Golden Quarter 

Fraudsters take advantage of the Golden Quarter just as much as your brand will do, with pre-sales campaigns. They thrive on the market of constantly changing offers and flash-sales, with fake products disguised among genuine discounted goods. 

Infringers follow social media pages, brand updates, events and global trends to see which products are in demand. They are agile operators, following trends shortly before the Golden Quarter and pivoting to make products with mere weeks’ notice. Print-on-demand and customized goods also see a ‘titanic’ boom during the Golden Quarter as they are not affected by warehouse or production issues.

Bad actors are experts in the territories they operate in. They will often focus on the platforms that see the most traffic during this period – but this isn’t always the case. There are two routes they can take: 

  • Mass marketplaces (e.g., Amazon) – offering mass produced goods 
  • Niche marketplaces (e.g., Etsy) – offering customizable and print-on-demand (POD) products 

Online Marketplaces: Bad actor behaviors, tactics, and trends during the Golden Quarter 

During the Golden Quarter, bad actors focus most of their efforts on marketplaces and social media. This is because websites take longer and more effort to set up. On these platforms, the following trends are observed. 

More brazen IP infringement 

IP infringement is more visible during this period, with listings brazenly including trademarks and copyright imagery. Bad actors know they will get taken down – but by the time this occurs, they’ve likely already sold huge volumes to discount hunting consumers. Sellers create throwaway accounts for this purpose, highlighting why image matching technology and round-the-clock enforcement are both critical. 

Rapid relisting 

Throughout the Golden Quarter, bad actors will list, remove, and then re-list their products to boost visibility to consumers. Bad actors fight each other for limited digital real estate, so will continue to relist their products so that they appear above their competition. Marketplaces such as Etsy, Wish, and eBay incentivize this behavior, offering relisting options so that products appear at the top of search results. 

During December, ‘listing turnaround time’ is between 13 to 14 days on Etsy[1]. In comparison to the rest of the year, listing turnaround time on the same marketplace is between 17 and 18 days. Listing turnaround time refers to how long a listing stays up before it’s removed by the seller and then reuploaded. 

Appealing to younger demographics 

Listings targeted to a younger audience are noticeably different. They include greater use of color, images and emojis – all designed to be attention grabbing and overload the consumer with information. Vape listings on platforms such as Shopee are a great example of this. 

Sponsored listings 

Paid promotion is used extensively during the Golden Quarter. Bad actors are not only fiercely competing with your legitimate brand, but with themselves. Their goal is to drive as much visibility as possible before the end of sales events or they are taken down by the platform.  

Parallel imports 

Parallel importing, also known as gray markets, involves the selling of goods outside of a brand’s authorized distribution channels. Bad actors normally sell these goods through unauthorized channels such as local marketplaces. 

These bad actors are often unauthorized resellers but could also be authorized sellers that are selling outside of their territory. They tend to capitalize on this process in countries where you may not be selling, as they can significantly inflate or reduce prices based on demand. 

Most-targeted industries 

With consumers looking for competitively priced gifts during the Golden Quarter, bad actors are known to focus on fashion, electronics, toy, and beauty brands. They will also exploit the entertainment industry – producing fake merchandise featuring popular children’s TV and movie characters. 

Infringement in numbers 

Infringement by product category 

A spike in high-risk infringement activity was detected for numerous different brands during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2022 (November 25 to December 1)[2]. See below for the largest increases in high-risk listings in comparison to a week that occurred just 3 months prior (August 25 to August 31): 

A technology brand experienced: 

  • 1015% increase on AliExpress (1,557 listings vs. 444) 
  • 443% increase on Shopee (1,371 listings vs. 123) 

A fashion brand experienced:  

  • 1315% increase on MercardoLibre (382 listings vs. 27) 
  • 639% increase on Amazon (2,942 listings vs. 398) 

A luxury brand experienced: 

  • 809% increase on Shopee (391 listings vs. 43) 
  • 709% increase on TradeMe (89 listings vs 11) 

Infringement by marketplace 

As shown in the graph below, Shopee, eBay, and Red Bubble see the highest volume of enforcements. During the Golden Quarter, there is a clear spike in enforcement volume for all marketplaces listed. 

Platform spotlight: Amazon 


Amazon is a common target for bad actors, as up to 90% of consumers price-check a product there[3]. The ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) is the unique offer identifier on Amazon for each individual product. Amazon requires brands to share ASINs with other sellers of the same product. But these sellers are not required to prove that their versions are legitimate.  

To add further complexity, bad actors may create duplicate ASINs that directly compete with official ASINs – you’ll likely have less visibility of activity on these listings. Given that Amazon’s algorithms put top-selling and ‘best-value’ products first, these duplicate ASINs will usually undercut the prices featured on your official listings. 

Amazon Buy Box 

Each Amazon ASIN features a ‘buy box’ at the top of the listing. It contains the ‘buy now’ and ‘add to basket’ buttons and is owned by only a single seller at any one time. However, during the Golden Quarter it may change hands multiple times throughout the day. Given that 82% of Amazon purchases are made via the buy box, it is imperative to have visibility of any bad actors infiltrating brand ASINs. 

Download The Golden Quarter eBook 

Our eBook ‘The Golden Quarter: A True 360° Customer View’ is your comprehensive guide to navigating the challenges that bad actors present across global marketplaces and capitalizing on the opportunities that arise during the year’s most critical period.  

Stop bad actors in their tracks  

We can help you at every stage of your brand protection journey – whether identifying threats, removing fraudulent listings or taking down criminal networks. 

Remove counterfeits at scale 

With the industry’s widest global marketplace platform coverage, Corsearch’s technology gives you visibility of fakes and detects counterfeit products where your consumers are searching, across thousands of platforms. 

Our AI saves hours of manual review time – matching features, images and logos to empower swift, automated detection of counterfeits. 

Our experience and proven processes handle enforcement strategically, by automatically removing counterfeit goods without the mundane admin and laborious cease and desist letters.  

Learn more about removing counterfeits at scale.

Eliminate the source of threats 

Our network intelligence technology gives you the full threat picture to visualize and prioritize high value bad actors that present the greatest threat to your brand. 

We help you identify those responsible for prolific harm to your brand and have certified investigators in the US, Europe and China to perform global test purchases and gather intelligence to support offline action. 

Learn more about stopping the source. 

Monitor authorized sellers 

Our technology provides true visibility of your grey market scene online. Our dedicated grey market team are expertly trained in understanding grey market threats and analyzing online sales data against bespoke sets of criteria.  

We work as an extension of your team, communicating with sellers on your behalf, to solve a range of challenges, including enforcing compliance breaches, acting on territorial and platform regulations and guiding your supply chain to guarantee the utmost compliance with your resale policies.  

Learn more about monitoring authorized sellers


[1] Source: 2022 Corsearch infringement data 
[2] 2022 Corsearch infringement data