URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: United States, 10 Foreign Law-Enforcement Agencies, Seize 706 Domain Names In Cyber Fraud Crackdown

domainseizurescybermonday2013smallURGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: The United States and 10 law-enforcement agencies in Europe and Hong Kong have seized 706 domain names in a Cyber Monday fraud crackdown, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said.

The photo above is from one of the domains: nfl-go.com, which has been linked to counterfeiting, according to a seizure message playing on the site. Variety.com first reported the seizure of domains linked to alleged counterfeiting sites that trade on the intellectual property of the National Football League.

At least some of the seized sites now display the emblems of at least 14 law-enforcement agencies in the United States, the United Kingdom (City of London Police), Belgium, Romania, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Hungary and Denmark. The EUROPOL emblem also is rolling across the seized sites.

“Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime,” said ICE Acting Director John Sandweg. “Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”

A top EUROPOL official said buyers may be assisting organized crime.

“Unfortunately the economic downturn has meant that disposable income has gone down, which may tempt more people to buy products for prices that are too good to be true. Consumers should realize that, by buying these products, they risk supporting organized crime,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.

ICE dubbed the takedown “Operation In Our Sites, Project Cyber Monday IV,” saying it built on efforts that began in 2010 and continued through subsequent years. The European side of the probe was dubbed Project Transatlantic III.

ICE is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Working with ICE on the U.S. side were Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C.

HSI conducted undercover operations as part of the effort, ICE said.

“This is the fourth year that the IPR Center has targeted websites selling counterfeit products online in conjunction with Cyber Monday,” ICE said. “Due to the global nature of Internet crime, the IPR Center partnered with Europol who, through its member countries, seized 393 foreign-based top-level domains as part of Project Transatlantic III. Additionally, Hong Kong Customs coordinated the seizure of 16 foreign-based top-level domains hosted in Hong Kong, enlisting the assistance of the web-hosting companies to suspend the service of related websites.”

“During this operation, federal law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products including professional sports jerseys and equipment, DVD sets and a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products,” ICE said. “Upon confirmation by the trademark or copyright holders that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, law enforcement officers obtained seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold these goods.”

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