November 27, 2012
Law enforcement agencies in the United States and Europe have seized 132 domain names allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise during their 'Project Cyber Monday 3' and 'Project Transatlantic' swoop.
"These websites were set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season," reads part of a statement posted on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) web site.
During the sting, undercover purchases of a range of products were made on sites under suspicion. Where copyright holders identified the goods as being counterfeit or illegal, a seizure order was obtained for the domain name.
Cyber Monday 3 netted 101 websites and one arrest. Project Transatlantic resulted in 31 seizures of country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD's) including .eu (European Union), .fr (France), .ro (Romania) and .uk (United Kingdom) names.
The domain names seized are now in the custody of the various governments involved and those visiting the web sites will see a seizure banner.
As well as the seizures, over USD $175,000 in funds received through associated PayPal accounts is being targeted for seizure by the investigating Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) field offices.
The latest seizures bring the total number to 1,630 since Operation In Our Sites (IOS) began in June 2010 and the standard seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views. Of the prior 1,529, 684 domain names have now been forfeited to the U.S. government.
Last year, a similar blitzed saw 150 domain names seized. 2010's Cyber Monday operation saw 82 domain names taken out of action.
In a separate action posted after the original statement posted earlier today, HSI special agents announced they had seized 15 websites that allegedly sold counterfeit sporting merchandise. A New York man was also arrested and charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a USD $2,000,000 fine.
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