Almost 700 domains have been seized and taken offline after European and US authorities worked together to identify and remove fraudulent sites from the web.
In total 690 domains were seized under the 'In Our Sites – Transatlantic 3’ operation, which saw co-operation between 10 law enforcement agencies across eight countries. It brings the total number of domains seized since the operation began to 2,550.
The effort was led by Europol member states Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Romania, Spain and the UK, and the US Homeland Security Investigations team. In the US 297 domains were seized while in Europe the number reached 393. Hong Kong authorities were also involved.
The domains hosted fraudulent sites that duped web users into buying counterfeit goods or failed to deliver promised items, and could often steal financial data provided as well. Europol director Rob Wainwright said the action proved the value of cross-agency teamwork.
“This operation is another good example of how transatlantic law enforcement co-operation works. It sends a signal to criminals that they should not feel safe anywhere,” he said.
“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 realise that by buying these products they risk supporting organised crime.”
The sites that have been seized now present a takedown notice to web users informing them that the site has been removed. Acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division John Sandweg said web users must be aware of the risks that many online sites pose.
“Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday spirit of shoppers around the world and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere,” he said.
“Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”
The takedown comes as warnings have been issued by the UK government and police that the public should be savvy when doing their Christmas shopping online.
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