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International crackdown on fake goods see 132 web domains seized

26 Nov 2012
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With the holiday shopping season now underway, law enforcement officials in the US and Europe have seized more than 130 domains associated with the sale of counterfeit goods.

The campaign teamed officials with the US Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) office and Europe's Europol division to take down sites on domains in the UK, France, Denmark, Romania and Belgium.

Officials estimate the action, which included local law enforcement groups, led to the removal of 132 domains and the seizure of PayPal accounts worth more than $175,000.

The agencies said that the operation primarily targeted individuals selling counterfeit retail goods. Among the products sold to undercover agents were jewellery, sports kit, luxury goods and personal electronics such as DVD players.

"This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the International Property Rights (IPR) Center," said ICE director John Morton.

"Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win."

The operation comes at the kickoff of what most in the industry believe will be a record online shopping season. As consumers settle back into offices and begin the "Cyber Monday" shopping push, estimates have put early sales figures will be up some 17 percent over last year.

In the US alone, sales are expected to top the $40bn mark, underscoring law enforcers deterimination to block the sales of counterfeit goods.

"Europol became a member of the IPR Center this year and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes," said Europol director Rob Wainwright.

"IPR theft is not a harmless and victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy."

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Shaun Nichols
About

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for V3.co.uk. He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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