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ICE Seizes 307 Domain Names

February 6, 2011

In a crackdown on web sites selling fake NFL merchandise, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has taken control of over 300 domain names and web sites.

The operation was executed by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indiana State Police.

'Operation Fake Sweep' netted sixteen web sites allegedly illegally streaming live sporting telecasts, including NFL games, and a further two hundred and ninety-one domain names were seized in connection to illegally selling and distributing related counterfeit merchandise.

A single Michigan man is accused by ICE of operating nine of the 16 streaming websites that were seized, all operated from his home.

Operation Fake Sweep is the 10th phase of Operation In Our Sites, a sustained law enforcement exercise targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. Since the launch of Operation In Our Sites in June 2010, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) has seized a total of 669 domain names.

In November last year, the Operation took control of 150 website domain names, whose operators were also allegedly illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise. The sweep represented an increase of over 80 percent more domains seized during 2010's Cyber Monday-related operation.

Visitors to government-seized domains are shown a seizure banner notifying them of the action by federal authorities, along with information relating to wilful copyright infringement being a federal crime. Since the operation's June 2010 launch and up until late November 2011, the seizure banner had been viewed more than 77 million times.

"Intellectual property (IP) thieves undermine the U.S. economy and jeopardize public safety. American jobs are being lost, American innovation is being diluted and organized criminal enterprises are profiting from their increasing involvement in IP theft," reads a part of a statement from ICE in relation to the recent operation.

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