A team of world-wide law enforcement agencies took out 132 domain names today that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online.
The group, made up of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, United Kingdom and the European Police Office (Europol) targeted alleged counterfeiters selling everything from professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, and a variety of clothing to jewelry and luxury goods.
If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold these goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges, US ICE said in a statement. 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 willful copyright infringement.
In addition to the domain name seizures, officials identified PayPal accounts utilized by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts, in excess of $175,000, are currently being targeted for seizure by the investigating HSI field offices.
The 132 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic, and this is the third year that group targeted websites selling counterfeit products online in conjunction with Cyber Monday. An iteration of Operation In Our Sites (IOS), Cyber Monday 3 seized 101 websites and yielded one arrest. The 101 domain names seized under Project Cyber Monday 3 bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,630 since the operation began in June 2010. Since that time, the seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views, ICE stated. Of the previous domain names seized in the US, 684 have now been forfeited to the US government.
The law enforcement team this year partnered with Europol, who, through its member countries, executed coordinated seizures of foreign-based top-level domains such as .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk. This effort is titled Project Transatlantic and resulted in 31 domain name seizures, ICE stated.
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