Europol-led op nixes 30,506 fake-peddling domains

The latest Europol campaign against websites offering pirated content and counterfeit goods has netted three arrests and 30,506 domain name takedowns.

The tenth instalment of Operation In Our Sites (IOS X) brought together organisations from 18 EU countries distributing illicit goods and content over the internet, including “counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated movies, illegal television streaming, music, software, electronics, and other bogus products.”

The total number of domain takedowns is a drop from more than 33,600 a year ago in IOS IX, but still dwarfs the 188 shuttered in 2014, its first year. The number of arrests is also down from 12 a year ago, as is the seized cash which was over €1m.

Europol led the operation, which was joined by law enforcement from EU member states, the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre (NIPRCC), Eurojust and Interpol. Police in South America, Hong Kong/China, Eastern Europe, and the US also took part.

Raids resulted in the seizure of 26,000 luxury products – including clothes and perfumes – as well as 363 litres of alcoholic beverages, and many hardware devices. Enforcement officers also identified and froze more than €150,000 in several bank accounts and online payment platforms.

The IOS operations have the aim of “making the internet a safer place for consumers, by getting even more countries and private sector partners to participate in this operation and providing referrals,” said Europol in a statement.

To raise awareness of the threat from counterfeits and pirated content, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³) recently launched a public awareness campaign entitled Don’t F***(ake) Up to informs citizens of the risks of buying fake products online.

The campaign 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.

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