December 3rd 2013
The City of London Police has joined forces with authorities from eight other countries to seize hundreds of internet domain names today that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.
A total of 590 domain names were seized are part of project ‘In Our Sites – Transatlantic 3’. The operation was coordinated by Europol for the participating EU member states and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in the US. Through Europol member states, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom 393 domain names were seized, with 297 in the US. Operations have also been conducted by Hong Kong Customs this year.
During the weeks leading up to the end of the year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold online, at retail stores and on street corners, not only giving consumers an unfair deal by providing substandard products, but also potentially funding more sinister crimes. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, football kits, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury branded goods, mobile phones and electronic accessories.
During the last few weeks Europol and the IPR Center received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. These leads were passed to HSI offices in the US as well as the City of London Police, the Belgium Economic Inspection, Belgium Customs, Denmark Police, Hungarian Customs, French Gendarmerie, French Customs, Romanian Police, Spanish Guardia Civil and Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
Europol Director Rob Wainwright said: “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. Unfortunately the economic downturn has meant that disposable income has gone down, which may tempt more people to buy products for prices that are too good to be true.
Consumers should realize that, by buying these products, they risk supporting organized crime."
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 federal crime of wilful copyright infringement.
Project ‘In Our Sites’ is a sustained law enforcement initiative that began more than three years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the
Internet. The 297 domain names seized under Operation In Our Sites 3 – Transatlantic bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 2.550 since the operation began in