International investigation seizes 132 websites selling counterfeit products

Websites prey on online holiday shoppers

DENVER - An international investigation seized 132 domain names suspected of being used to sell counterfeit products, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) said Monday. Denver special agents seized 29 of those websites.

Federal law enforcement officers made undercover purchases ranging from professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, to a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers. Then investigators checked with the copyright holders to confirm the products were counterfeit.

The 132 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic.

The operation was coordinated by the ICE National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C., with help from law enforcement agencies in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the European Police Office (EUROPOL).

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

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.