20,000 illegal Websites and Domains Terminated in Recent Europol Action

20,000 illegal Websites and Domains Terminated in Recent Europol Action

Online marketplaces used for selling electronics, luxury items, and drugs swooped by coordinated law enforcement effort.

A large-scale operation against online piracy has seen Europol (European Police) forces seizing more than 20,500 Internet domains under use for illegal peddling of counterfeit goods.

The listed illegal assets ranged from luxury products to sportswear, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, sold across online marketplaces and social networks, law enforcement investigators declared. Europol warns users against popular online goods that are frequently of counterfeit quality, such as designer watches, cosmetics, clothing items, car parts, children’s toys, and electronics. It is likely that the product you receive is not the one you placed an order for, the agency explains; you might even get nothing but an empty box.

Part of the operation entitled “In Our Sites” (IOS, for short), the results are the outcome of a global effort drawing on the joint resources of 27 member states of the European Union. Launched in 2014, the project’s resources and logistics are coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3).

Previous efforts developed as part of the cross-country project have reportedly terminated 7,776 websites, Europol declared this Monday, November 27, 2017. This year’s operation has seen a marked increase in efficiency – codenamed IOS VIII, it has led to the seizure and scrubbing of 20,520 domains caught selling counterfeit products and merchandise.

Europol is very satisfied with the result, underlining that it stands as evidence of how effective a partnership between authorities and entities from the private sector can be, police agency director Rob Wainwright declared. He also illustrates the importance of such a partnership towards achieving the larger goal of ensuring the safety of consumers on the Internet.

Counterfeiters running rogue websites have become increasingly savvy, according to Europol. The police agency warns that current developments in Internet technology offer criminals increased anonymity. The agency further elaborates on its website, stating that users are more likely to be tricked by counterfeiters while shopping online. This is because the digital environment does not allow for direct physical contact with the product. Having no frame of reference, nothing to touch and to look at, a buyer can face serious difficulties in identifying differences.

Another technique that the agency warns against is exploitation of official mobile app stores, stating that the level of sophistication presented by such scams makes it hard for users to detect that they are illicit. Europol explains on their website that a user will more readily embrace an app as being legitimate if it is listed on an official app store, thus increasing the risk of downloading scam mobile programs.

Acting director of the NIPRC (National Intellectual Property Rights Centre) Nick Annan reiterates their mission and priority, stating that they will continue to target websites infringing on copyright law, selling dangerous fake products to consumers, and other such means of stealing intellectual property.

The acting director further states his conviction that stronger ties with international police authorities and tech industry leaders will ultimately lead to a strong, deterring pursuit of digital crime, proving to criminals that this type of illegal endeavor cannot be absconded in any way.