Europol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), together with 11 law enforcement agencies from eight countries, have seized 188 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.
The 188 domain names seized last week are part of project 'In Our Sites (IOS) - Transatlantic 4'. The websites were set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit products. The operation was coordinated by Europol for the participating EU Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, DC for the US.
Counterfeit products being sold online not only rip the consumer off and provide shoddy products, but also put their personal financial information at risk. The most popular counterfeit products concerned include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.
During the last few weeks Europol and the IPR Center received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to law enforcement authorities in the affected countries.
The domain names seized are now in the custody of the governments involved in these operations. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the crime of wilful copyright infringement.
Project 'In Our Sites' is a sustained law enforcement initiative that began to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. The 188 domain names seized under Operation In Our Sites 4 – Transatlantic bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1349 since the IOS Transatlantic project began in November 2012.
Operation In Our Sites Transantlantic - Related press releases:
26 Nov 2012 - Transatlantic I - Websites selling counterfeit merchandise taken down by authorities in Europe and the USA
26 Jun 2013 - Transatlantic II - 328 internet domains selling counterfeit products targeted by law enforcement
2 Dec 2013 - Transatlantic III - 690 internet domain names seized because of fraudulent practices