December 4, 2013
On Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies seized hundreds of domain names associated with web sites allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise.
Part of Operation In Our Sites, Project Cyber Monday IV resulted in the seizure of 297 domain names from undercover operations conducted by HSI offices around the USA. Europol, under Project Transatlantic III, seized 393 country code top-level domains and Hong Kong Customs grabbed 16 foreign-based top-level domains hosted in Hong Kong.
"Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere," said ICE Acting Director John Sandweg. "Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites."
The seized domains are now in the custody of the respective governments and visitors to the sites will be shown a banner notifying of the seizure and information concerning counterfeit goods and copyright.
In addition to perhaps receiving shoddy merchandise, ICE warns consumers buying these goods may also be putting their personal financial information at risk - credit card and other details may be used for crimes relating to identity theft.
"This operation is another good example of how transatlantic law enforcement cooperation works. It sends a signal to criminals that they should not feel safe anywhere," said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol. "Consumers should realize that, by buying these products, they risk supporting organized crime."
As part of the research process prior to seizure, undercover purchases were made from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit products. Trademark or copyright holders then confirmed if the goods received were indeed counterfeit or infringed on copyrights and then seizure orders were obtained for the offending domains.
Now well into its third year, 2,550 domains have been seized in total as a result of In Our Sites and the seizure banner has racked up more than 122 million individual views.
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