As “Black Friday” madness grabbed headlines for skirmishes and tramplings over the weekend, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) warned “Cyber Monday” shoppers to beware of criminal enterprises lurking on the Internet.
“For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” said ICE Director John Morton. “More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, stolen American business profits and American consumers receiving substandard products. The ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime.”
For many customers, shopping online provides an alternative to busy malls and crowded parking lots, but federal law enforcement officials say online purchases provide criminals with the perfect opportunity for intellectual and identity theft.
“The theft of intellectual property, to include the trafficking of counterfeit goods, creates significant financial losses,” said FBI Section Chief Zack Miller of the Cyber Division. “The FBI aggressively pursues intellectual property enforcement through traditional investigative methods, intelligence initiatives and coordinated efforts with private industry and domestic and foreign law enforcement partners.”
Gearing up for the busy holiday season the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), and the FBI Washington Field Office announced “Operation in Our Sites.” The joint operation executed 150 commercial websites seizures that were engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted products.
Federal law enforcement agents made a broad series of undercover purchases including professional sports jerseys, Hollywood DVD sets, brand name footwear, designer handbags and sunglasses, all representing a variety of trademarks.
The 150 seized domains are now in federal custody. Website visitors will now discover a seizure banner that announces the domain name has been seized by federal authorities for willful copyright infringement.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov or www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.
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