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PIPCU assists in suspending 188 websites

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has assisted Europol and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), to seize 188 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.

The 188 domain names were seized last week as part of project ‘In Our Sites (IOS) - Transatlantic 4’. The websites were set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit products. The operation was coordinated by Europol for the participating EU Member States with the City of London Police unit representing the United Kingdom and the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, DC for the US.

The most popular counterfeit products concerned included headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.

During the last few weeks Europol and the IPR Center received leads from trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to law enforcement authorities in the affected countries, with PIPCU leading on the UK domains names.

Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and about the crime of wilful copyright infringement.

PIPCU Detective Inspector, Rob Stirling, said, “PIPCU is proud to support our law enforcement partners across the globe in the fight against intellectual property crime.

“It is important that we make sure the public is aware of the risks of buying counterfeits. Not only are fake goods likely to be shoddy copies of the original and potentially dangerous, but consumers are also putting their personal and financial information at risk. Consumers need to be cautious when shopping online. If you think an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Do not rush and be fooled into thinking you are getting a good deal.”

Project ‘In Our Sites’ is a sustained law enforcement initiative that began to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. The 188 domain names seized under Operation In Our Sites 4 – Transatlantic bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1349 since the IOS Transatlantic project began in November 2012.

PIPCU is a specialist police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.

The operationally independent unit launched in September 2013 and is initially being funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. ​​​PIPCU is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, the National Lead Force for Fraud. ​​​​​​​​