Op takes down nearly half a million fake-peddling websites

An enforcement campaign against websites offering pirated content and counterfeit goods has resulted in almost 495,000 websites being taken down and the seizure of hundreds of thousands of fake goods.

Operation In Our Sites took place between May 1 and 12 November, and resulted in 12 arrests, 48 criminal cases, and the confiscation of counterfeit items worth $2.6m ($2.9m), including more than 180,000 falsified medical products.

It also netted over 42,000 other counterfeit articles, including shoes, clothes and accessories, and 11 fake artworks that were being sold in online auction sites.

The joint international operation involved law enforcement authorities from 30 countries and was supported by Europol, Eurojust and Interpol. The latest instalment is the twelfth In our Sites operation since the enforcement action was first launched in 2014.

As always, the operation is  organised to culminate during the build-up to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping splurge to try to have the most impact on the illicit trade.

As part of the crackdown, officers also intercepted more than €460,000 in cash, 37 cars and one motorcycle.

"The sale of counterfeit goods and pirated materials is becoming an increasingly serious problem for law enforcement authorities for a number of reasons," said Europol in a statement.

"The internet allows criminals to remain anonymous due to the borderless nature of international e-commerce," it added. "It has never been easier to offer counterfeit goods or pirated content online as consumers have access to a greater variety of illicit products but are unaware of the potential risks."

The last In Our Sites operation in 2020 resulted in 21,910 domain name takedowns and seized items were worth an estimated €2.5m.

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