Law enforcement agencies from three continents seized more than 700 domains on Tuesday for selling counterfeit goods. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Europol, and Hong Kong Customs worked together on the project, which was called “In Our Sites, Project Cyber Monday IV” in the US. The agencies were coordinated by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
The US government is now targeting PayPal accounts used by the websites for seizure, and $175,000 of criminal proceeds. eBay is cooperating with the investigation, and made a statement in support of the efforts of law enforcement to protect its customers and brand.
“Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere,” ICE Acting Director John Sandweg said. “Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”
According to Variety, the products included DVDs, electronics accessories, apparel such as sports jerseys, and personal products, with a focus on the NFL and related brands. Domains seized included nfl-go.com, redskins-online.com and nfl-web.com.
The largest number of sites was hosted out of Europe (393), with Europol seizing sites hosted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, Spain, and the UK. ICE seized 297 sites hosted in the US, and Hong Kong Customs seized 16 sites hosted from there.
Last year’s “Project Cyber Monday” netted 132 domains selling similar counterfeit goods, which were also hosted in the US and the same European countries (except for Spain).
A similarly large seizure of domains was carried out in May by registrar Network Solutions LLC, in that case to comply with sanctions brought against Syria due to its civil war.In January, Polish registrar NASK seized 23 domains to combat the Virut botnet, which accounted for 6.8 percent of malware infections in 2012.
Intellectual property rights actions are surely best carried out by law enforcement, as the difficult position registrars are forced into when asked to take action was shown by the controversy over the shutdown of some major torrent sites in the UK in October.