U.S. officials said on Monday they had seized 150 website domain names they said were being used to sell counterfeit goods, including football and hockey jerseys, fake designer boots, and handbags.
Some of the names seemed clearly designed to mislead customers seeking genuine quality, such as texansjerseystore.com, while others such as discount-louisvuitton-handbag.com were aimed at bargain shoppers.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the Justice Department, and the FBI Washington Field Office hope their joint operation will become an annual ritual on Cyber Monday, the day that websites try to lure holiday shoppers at their work terminals.
"More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen, and American consumers receiving substandard products,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. “And the ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime."
The operation, begun in June 2010, has seized 350 domain names, and 116 of them have been forfeited to the government as owners decline to fight the action. “Visitors to these websites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime,” ICE said in a statement.