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132 counterfeit websites seized in U.S.-EU post-Thanksgiving crackdown


08:52, November 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. federal authorities and their European counterparts seized 132 websites for allegedly selling counterfeit goods in a coordinated post-Thanksgiving crackdown, announced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday.

This is the third straight year that the U.S. federal government launched a crackdown blitz on "Cyber Monday", a term for the Monday following the Thanksgiving Day, a major online shopping day with big sales and promotions in the year-end holiday season.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, and law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Police Office (Europol) seized 132 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers. The seizures include 101 U.S. sites and 31 foreign- based top-level domains ending in .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk. .

During the operation, federal law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products, including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, and a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit products.

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.

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

"IPR (intellectual property rights) theft is not a harmless and victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy," said Europol Director Rob Wainwright.

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.

The Cyber Monday crackdown is part of Operation In Our Sites (IOS), a U.S. law enforcement initiative launched in June 2010 to protect consumers by targeting the online sale of counterfeit merchandise. The latest seizures have brought the total number of U.S. domain names seized in this initiative to 1,630.

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