To combat counterfeiting, Leboncoin opens its moderation to counterfeit brands

With between 800,000 and 1 million new sales ads posted on their site every day, Leboncoin has to do a pretty big job of sorting out fraudulent offers. As a content host by law, the platform is obligated – since the Digital Economy Trust Act 2004 – to monitor its site and remove fraudulent ads.

To best do this, the company acquired startup Videdressing in 2018. While the operation aimed above all at integrating payment into its offering, it also brought them new anti-counterfeiting techniques and skills. With that, May Berthelot, Judicial Director of Young Photography – and a well-known figure in the fashion world – was appointed responsible for the topic at Leboncoin. On the occasion of the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC), which takes place from June 7-9 in Lille, the lawyer detailed the group’s strategy, which is surprising to say the least. In addition to the traditional tools, Leboncoin has opened its moderation to counterfeit companies, through its “Handcheck Program”. “In the fight against counterfeiting, we believe that it is the cooperation between different actors that will allow us to achieve our common goals.‘, defending Mai Bertello.

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Avoid false positives

Leboncoin monitors three fields to filter out illegal ads: keywords (for example, expressions”like real” where “Resembles”), brands and finally product categories. My Berthelot states that AirPods (“a kind of earbud”) or bags from major brands like Hermès (“a kind of handbag”) will be more targeted by counterfeiting than are shoes, especially fakes. This strategy allows him to focus his greatest moderation efforts on more imitation products.

Due to the volume of ads processed by Leboncoin, the sorting is mainly done automatically, using standard artificial intelligence methods on the market: decision tree, machine learning or image detection, which consists of creating patterns to detect fraudulent offers by a text and image parser, or both. Calibrating these mechanisms can be a balancing act: if the standards are too lax, a significant portion of fraud will bypass the candidate. If the criteria are too strict, false positives (legitimate ads detected as fraudulent) can be too many. This is why training this type of algorithm is static, and should – at least in theory – improve over time.

If ad screening before publication is only automated — a legal obligation to trust in the digital economy, the company recalls — meat and blood moderators step in after publication. Like many other technology companies, Leboncoin does not provide its numbers. “If, unfortunately, an advertisement with illegal content is wrongly placed on the Internet and if it is the subject of a report by one of our users, a specialized team can remove it later, within 48 hours, provided that the report respects well the formality imposed by the Digital Economy Trust ActCompany development.

Companies are invited to modify their own products

To go beyond its own discovery, Leboncoin decided to open its doors. “With Videdressing, we’ve worked with brands to gather product information, and we’ve brought this knowledge to life’” says May Berthelot. And so the “Handcheck Program,” was born, in February 2021. It allows any right holder, or service provider, to have direct access to the Leboncoin platform, and even to report any problematic ads in order to trigger a deletion.”Within a few hours max“.”This relationship includes building trust with our partners.”The lawyer knows. That’s why Handcheck was first tested with 4 brands for 6 months. The group does not announce how many companies are now registered with the device, but it identifies that the most sensitive sectors are currently luxury, fashion and electronics.

Through this mechanism, brands can use platform identifiers or add their own criteria. Leboncoin emerges as the winner, as it gathers information that allows it to improve its detection bots. “NotOur volumes are so huge that it is possible for a user to encounter illegal content from time to time.”pisses off Mai Berlotte, before adding “But this content Usually removed fairly quickly“.

How can anti-fraud be measured?

There is a second problem for the lawyer: her work can only be measured in terms of the number of advertisements and the quantities of counterfeit products withdrawn from sale. “In 2021, my team removed 67 million euros of counterfeit products, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg‘, specify.

Therefore, it is difficult to calculate what an anti-fraud policy “brings”. Gain is measured by communication, reputation, or customer satisfaction. Intangible assets that benefit the company, but do not translate directly into cash.

However, on the other side of the balance sheet, this fight has a cost: Without giving the budget allocated to the subject in Leboncoin, May Berthelot specifies that Videdressing -”A very small start-up companyOf the 35 employees during the acquisition – they spent 4 million euros over just under 10 years of history.On the other hand, it can be considered as a cost center. But on the other hand, if we want to move forward towards a coherent future and an increasingly large second-hand market, we must secure‘, she concludes.