Europol operation takes down 33,600-plus Internet domains selling counterfeit goods

Europol's headquarters in The Hague

Europol’s headquarters in The Hague

As part of an international operation, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Co-ordinated Coalition (IPC3) has seized 33.654 domain names distributing counterfeit and pirated items online. The websites featured items such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals, pirated films and television shows, music, software, electronics and other bogus products. The joint international operation also involved the US National Intellectual Property Rights C-ordination Centre* and law enforcement authorities from 26 countries including EU Member States and third parties**, and was facilitated by Interpol.

Operation In Our Sites is a continuation of a recurrent joint global operation launched in 2014 and which has since significantly increased. The ninth edition of this worldwide operation saw an even larger range of anti-counterfeiting associations, brand owner representatives and law enforcement authorities taking part to facilitate international co-operation and support the countries involved in this initiative.

This year’s operation, IOS IX, has seen a remarkable increase from the previous edition, where 20,520 domain names were seized as they were illegally trading counterfeit merchandise online.

This is a result of Europol’s comprehensive approach to making the Internet a safer place for consumers by encouraging more countries and private sector partners to participate in this operation and provide referrals.

In addition to the seized domain names, officials also arrested 12 suspects, blocked hardware devices, identified and froze more than one million Euros in several bank accounts, tackled online payment platforms and addressed a virtual currency farm used by the organised criminal groups.

In co-operation with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, Europol continues to enhance such efforts by successfully supporting many high-priority investigations related to online crimes, providing training related to online investigations and organising conferences such as the annual Intellectual Property Crime Conference.

To continuously raise awareness of this growing threat, Europol’s IPC3 launched the campaign Don’t F***(ake) Up. The campaign informs citizens of the risks of buying fake products online and provides forthright advice to help identify illicit websites that sell counterfeit goods, as well as other means used by counterfeiters, such as fake social media accounts and fake apps.

*The US National Intellectual Property Rights C-ordination Centre comprises US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations

**Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong-China, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, the UK and the USA

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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