Federal law enforcement authorities have announced the seizure of 132 domain names in several countries to stop them from selling counterfeit merchandise online.
The Cyber Monday crackdown came on what was expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations coordinated the effort with Europol and police in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Authorities say it's the third consecutive Cyber Monday that websites selling knockoff sports jerseys, DVDs and other goods were targeted. The sites were seized after copyright holders confirmed products purchased there by investigators were illegal. Site visitors now see a banner explaining the seizure and copyright infringement.
In upstate Buffalo, U.S. investigators shut down 15 websites allegedly selling counterfeit New Era caps and other sports merchandise. New Era Cap Co. is based in Buffalo.
"These are not victimless crimes," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. "When you buy counterfeit merchandise, you're not only hurting the company, you're hurting the company's employees."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently called for stronger action against the manufacturers of counterfeit products, many of them in China, and the websites that market them. He claims New Era has lost $300 million in sales because of counterfeit caps, and he suggested the illegal activity has put the Buffalo-based company at risk.
Federal authorities offered tips on how to avoid buying counterfeit products, including the need for every online consumer to be aware of whom they are buying from.
Investigators noted that many counterfeit sites sell their items at prices that are truly too good to be true and often use improper grammar or incorrect spelling on their Web pages. They pointed to one of the New Era knockoff sites that listed itself as New Ear.