WASHINGTON – Through the ongoing international Operation “In Our Sites,” the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and Europol seized or shut down more than 490,475 websites illegally selling counterfeit goods and other copyright-protected material to unsuspecting consumers between November 2020 and November 2021, keeping holiday shoppers safe 12 years running.
The operation led to the arrest of 12 suspects this year, the seizure of nearly $3 million worth of counterfeit goods ahead of Cyber Monday, and the opening of 48 criminal cases.
Industry partners participating in the operation were also responsible for shutting down approximately 848,000 e-commerce links featured on social media platforms and third-party marketplaces. The most popular counterfeit products seized this year were personal protection equipment, apparel, medical products, artwork and automotive parts and accessories.
The sale of counterfeit goods and pirated materials is becoming an increasing problem for law enforcement authorities for several reasons. First, the criminals can easily make large profits and quickly delete their internet tracks, remaining anonymous. Second, consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for a larger variety of purchases, where they may unknowingly buy counterfeit goods or pirated content.
This international operation highlighted the effective collaboration between law enforcement authorities from 30 countries, anti-counterfeiting associations and industry representatives, who made substantial contributions to the success of this operation.
Of significant note, partner law enforcement agencies from Italy, United Kingdom and Europol successfully targeted fraudsters selling and purchasing compromised card details on websites selling stolen credit card data, known as card shops, and dark web marketplaces. Between May and November, 12 vendors selling compromised credit card details were identified and 49,761 pieces of stolen card data were analyzed. The total losses prevented are estimated at more than $15 million.
The IPR Center, working collaboratively with its 27 public and private sector partners, stands at the forefront of the United States government’s response to combatting global intellectual property theft and enforcing intellectual properties rights violations. The IPR Center was established to combat global intellectual property theft and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.