Police crack-down on 200 counterfeit retail websites

Nearly 200 websites that were conning customers into buying counterfeit goods were shut down last week, when the EU’s cybercrime bureau Europol, City of London Police and Washington’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined forces.

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Nearly 200 websites that were conning customers into buying counterfeit goods were shut down last week, when the EU’s cybercrime bureau Europol, City of London Police and Washington’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined forces.

London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) assisted the seizure of 188 domain names which were selling headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, mobile phones and electronic accessories.

The seizure took place after Europol and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center were given the lead by the items’ trademark holders. PIPCU worked with the internet registry company Nominet to suspend the UK-based domains. 

Customers trying to access the sites are now met with a banner that notifies them of the seizure and about the crime of wilful copyright infringement.

PIPCU Detective Inspector, Rob Stirling, said: “PIPCU is proud to support our law enforcement partners across the globe in the fight against intellectual property crime.

“It is important that we make sure the public is aware of the risks of buying counterfeits; not only are fake goods likely to be shoddy copies of the original and potentially dangerous, but consumers are also putting their personal and financial information at risk. Consumers need to be cautious when shopping online. If you think an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Do not rush and be fooled into thinking you are getting a good deal.”

Last month, PIPCU shut down file-hosting search site FileCrop and in April it closed down the The Sports Torrent Network (TSTN). The police unit also closed down 2,500 websites for allegedly selling counterfeit goods in April.

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