690 Domain Names Seized for Fraudulent Activity

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Europol and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in cooperation with 10 law enforcement agencies in eight countries, this week seized 690 domain names that were being used to sell counterfeit merchandise online.

As part of project "In Our Sites - Transatlantic 3," 297 domain names were seized in the U.S., and 393 were seized in EU member states Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Operations were also conducted by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

Project "In Our Sites" was launched in June 2010, and has resulted in a total of 2,550 domain name seizures since its inception.

"Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP Crime," ICE acting director John Sandweg said in a statement. "Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday spirit of shoppers around the world and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites."

Europol and the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) received leads from trademark holders regarding the sites that were marketing counterfeit products. According to Europol, the most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal card products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.

"This operation is another good example of how transatlantic law enforcement cooperation works," Europol director Rob Wainwright said in a statement. "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."