Law enforcers clampdown on nearly 200 fraudulent websites

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Around 200 websites accused of selling counterfeit goods online have been seized by law enforcement authorities in Europe and the US, as part of a project that fights against online scams targeting consumers.

Legal authorities from different countries seized a total of 188 domain names last week, in the ongoing collective operation dubbed “In Our Sites 4 – Transatlantic,” which targets individual and groups behind online scams.

The operation has been co-ordinated by 14 law enforcement agencies including Europol, the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in eight countries including the UK, the US, France, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Romania.

The project, which aims to close down websites that fool people into buying counterfeit goods, including sports clothing, designer shoes, toys, luxury goods and electronics, has in total seized 1349 domains since it began in November 2012.

Anyone who will try to access the seized websites will now get a message that notifies them about unlawfulness of copyright infringement.

Rob Stirling, detective inspector of PIPCU, said City of London was pleased to work with other overseas crime-fighting bodies to tackle online.

“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,” said Stirling.

“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.”