An international operation has led to the seizure of more than 33,654 domain names responsible for intellectual property crime.
Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) worked alongside authorities from 26 EU countries and the US to arrest 12 suspects and seize accounts worth more than one million Euros.
Europol said operation In Our Sites (IOS), which is now in its ninth term, has proven to be a highly successful strategy in tackling intellectual property crime.
Websites taken down by the operation were known to be distributing items such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals, pirated films, television shows, software, electronics and a host of other bogus products.
In addition to the seized domain names, officials also arrested 12 suspects, blocked hardware devices and froze more than one million euros spread across several bank accounts.
Online payment platforms used by organised criminal groups and virtual currency farms were also shut down as part of the operation, Europol said in a statement.
IOS, Europol stated, is a continuation of a recurrent joint-global operation that continues to lead the fight against intellectual property crime.
“The ninth edition of this worldwide operation in 2018 saw an even larger range of anti-counterfeiting associations, brand owner representatives and law enforcement authorities taking part to facilitate international cooperation and support the countries involved in this initiative,” the crime agency said in a statement.
The statement continued: “This year’s operation IOS IX has seen a remarkable increase from the previous edition, where 20,520 domain names were seized as they were illegally trading counterfeit merchandise online.”
Intellectual Property Crime
The international trade in counterfeit products represents a staggering 2.5% of world trade according to Europol statistics compiled in 2013.
These statistics, the organisation said, are likely to be higher in 2018.
In the UK specifically, tackling intellectual property crime – and domains associated with this form of criminality – has become a difficult task.
Figures released by Nominet last week showed that more than 32,000 .UK domains were shut down or seized by police services due to criminal activity.
The Nominet Criminality Report shows that the number of .UK domains suspended by police has doubled year-on-year, with 16,632 domains suspended in 2017.
While this represents less than 0.1% of the 12 million .UK domains currently registered, the report highlights the dangers these fraudulent websites cause to consumers, as well as the impact counterfeit products have on companies of all sizes.
To counter the rise of IP crime, Europol’s IPC3 launched the ‘Don’t F***(ake) Up’ campaign, which informs citizens of the risks of buying fake products online.