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November 30, 2015Washington, DC, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Illegal websites seized in global operation

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) teamed with industry and law-enforcement agencies from 27 different countries to shutdown 37,479 websites for illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers as part of operation In Our Sites VI.

The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) launched the synchronized effort to disrupt the operation of copyright infringing websites. Over the past year, and leading up to Cyber Monday, the IPR Center and its partners used both criminal and civil actions to successfully seize domain names.

The enforcement effort demonstrated effective collaboration between industry members, anti-counterfeiting associations and law-enforcement personnel, who effectively worked together to combat an ever-growing problem. Brand owners representing name-brand apparels, handbags, footwear, eyewear, cosmetics, consumer electronics, athletic apparel, sporting goods, personal care products, as well as the entertainment industry, participated in the operation.

“This effort highlights the global commitment to take aggressive action against online piracy,” said IPR Center Director Bruce Foucart. “The IPR Center will continue to collaborate with international law enforcement and industry to protect consumers from purchasing counterfeit goods online, which could expose sensitive financial information and present a health and safety threat.” 

This is the sixth year that the IPR Center worked with international partners to target websites selling counterfeit products online. Europol and Interpol were two international law-enforcement agencies that seized top-level domain names, and continue to be major assets in the fight against Internet crime.

Each year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners and online. The internet has facilitated the sale of counterfeit merchandise online and criminals have taken advantage of the internet to deceive, sell and ship fake products directly to unsuspecting consumers. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.

The HSI-led National IPR Center is one of the U.S. Government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the National IPR Center uses the expertise of its 23-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the National IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.