Tag Archives: counterfeit goods

FBI Sees Rise In Online Shopping Scams Using New gTLDs And WHOIS Privacy

The FBI has reported this week it was seeing an increasing number of consumers not receiving items purchased from websites, according to complaints they have received. The websites are offering low prices on items such as gym equipment, small appliances, tools and furniture. And the FBI has found domain names being used are not .com, but rather the fraudulent websites are using new gTLDs like .club and .top.

Continue reading FBI Sees Rise In Online Shopping Scams Using New gTLDs And WHOIS Privacy

Shop safe New Zealand by Brent Carey, NZ Domain Name Commissioner

Today [Monday] InternetNZ is launching our #ShopSafeNZ campaign hoping to raise awareness about safer online shopping experiences for Kiwis. We’ll be campaigning in the lead up to the holiday season and retail sales from 25 November – 1 January 2020. 

Continue reading Shop safe New Zealand by Brent Carey, NZ Domain Name Commissioner

Over 33,000 Domain Names Seized Selling Counterfeit Goods in Latest Operation In Our Sites

As part of an international operation, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) seized 33,654 domain names distributing counterfeit and pirated items online. This takes the total to more than one million that have been seized in the past 12 months. Continue reading Over 33,000 Domain Names Seized Selling Counterfeit Goods in Latest Operation In Our Sites

EURid and IACC Team Up to Fight Cybercrime in .EU and .ЕЮ

EURid and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) have announced plans to work together to fight cybercrime in the .eu and .ею domain name space. The collaboration aims to help clear the registration database from fraudulent domain names and to establish a more secure domain space for Internet users.

The scope of this collaboration is based on the exchange of knowledge and support pertaining to cybercrime, specifically counterfeiting and piracy, in the .eu and .еюdomain name space. It entails engaging in joint efforts, exchanging statistical data and trends pertaining to cybercrime, and committing to cooperate on projects designed to address the issue.

Over the last 3 years, EURid, the .eu and .ею registry, has strengthened its efforts in cleaning up its registration database from fraudulent activity to increase trust and security in the .eu and .ею domain name space, resulting in the suspension of more than 70,000 domain names.

“Overall, cybercrime rates worldwide have been climbing over the past few years. It’s imperative that we continue to monitor and identify abusive registrations and alleged illegal activity happening within the .eu and .еюspace and take action in a timely manner. We increase our efforts in combatting illegal activity online and hopefully influence others to do the same,” said Geo Van Langenhove, EURid’s Legal Manager.

For the IACC, a Washington, DC-based not for profit organisation representing the interests of companies concerned with trademark counterfeiting and the related theft of intellectual property, this MOU marks the first time that the organisation has collaborated with a registry, underscoring its mission to combat online counterfeiting and piracy through strategic partnerships with intermediaries in all industries.

“Online counterfeiting has grown in scale, threatening Internet users’ safety and overall experience on the web. With the IACC’s expertise in anti-counterfeiting and EURid’s oversight of the .eu and .eio domain spaces, this partnership is a positive step toward ridding the Internet of counterfeiters and establishing a trusted online environment for all,” said Bob Barchiesi, IACC President.

The EURid – IACC MOU, solidified Tuesday through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the EUROPOL IP Crime Conference in Budapest, Hungary, this marks an important step in the right direction to combating cybercrime, but the organisations’ efforts won’t stop there. EURid has been actively working with various law enforcement agencies such as the Belgian Federal Ministry of Economy and the Cybersquad team. The IACC continues to establish and promote its world-renowned online anti-counterfeiting programs, which were created in partnership with credit card companies and other major payment providers, as well as online marketplaces. The IACC also works closely with law enforcement agencies and organisations, including EUROPOL, by sharing resources and expertise. In addition to signing an MOU with EUROPOL in 2016, the IACC is also an organising partner to the EUROPOL IP Crime Conference.

Interpol-led Operation Sees Over 20,000 Domain Names Seized For Selling Counterfeit Goods

An operation led by Interpol in conjunction with Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre and law enforcement authorities from 27 EU Member States and third parties, seized over 20,520 domain names in an operation that was revealed to coincide with Cyber Monday this week. The domain names were used for websites that were offering counterfeit goods, for example luxury products, sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and online piracy on e-commerce platforms and social networks.

This joint global recurrent operation ‘In Our Sites’ (IOS) was implemented in 2014 and has since increased significantly. The eighth edition in 2017 of this global operation saw a big range of anti-counterfeiting associations and brand owner representatives joined law enforcement authorities participating in this huge worldwide action, to facilitate international cooperation and support the countries involved in this initiative. A total of 7,776 websites have been seized in the previous editions.

This year’s operation IOS VIII has seen a remarkable increase of up to 20,520 seized domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to consumers. This can be explained by the holistic approach which Europol followed with the aim of making the internet a safer place for consumers, by getting even more countries and private-sector partners to participate in this operation and provide referrals.

“This excellent result shows how important and effective cooperation between law enforcement authorities and private-sector partners is, and how vital it is if we are to ultimately make the internet a safer place for consumers,” said Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol. “Through its Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), Europol will continue to work closely with its partners to strengthen the fight against intellectual property crime online and offline.”

“Targeting copyright-infringing websites that market dangerous counterfeit goods to consumers and engage in other forms of intellectual property theft will continue to be a priority for law enforcement,” said acting IPR Center Director Nick Annan. “Strengthening our collaboration with police authorities around the world and leaders of industry will reinforce the crackdown on IP crimes, and demonstrate that there is no safe haven for criminals committing these illicit activities.”

Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) continued to join efforts in 2017 by successfully supporting many high-priority investigations related to online crimes, providing training related to online investigations, and organising a conference on Innovative Strategies for Effective Enforcement in Antwerp, Belgium, on 19-20 September 2017.

One of the participants in the IOS, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested two Mexican nationals earlier this year for allegedly operating a counterfeit airbag business out of their residence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez were charged with conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods and two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods. The two Mexican nationals facilitated the listing and selling of counterfeit airbag modules and airbag covers through their online website airbagsplace.com, and conducted in person sales of the counterfeit goods.

As part of HSI’s enforcement actions the website domain name was seized and the merchant account used to facilitate the illegal activity was shut down. If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million.

The easy access to the internet has made fighting counterfeiting and piracy a worldwide challenge. Counterfeiters’ ability to remain anonymous and operate thousands of web domains brings significant challenges for both the private sector and law enforcement efforts directed at taking down rogue websites and tracking down the individuals behind them. Furthermore, it has become increasingly easy to become a victim of counterfeiting. Mindful of this, Europol’s IPC³ has produced a new awareness video for consumers about the risks of ordering counterfeit medicines online. This phenomenon knows no limits – in the best-case scenario, fake medicines leave patients with no ill effects but also with no cure and in many other cases, they could even be life threatening.

Europol also wants to help consumers identify illicit websites selling counterfeit goods. For more information about the risks of buying counterfeits and other means used by counterfeiters, such as fake social media accounts and fake apps, visit Europol's dedicated web page.

E-Shops Selling Counterfeit Goods Often Use Re-Registered Brand Domains, European Study Finds

Companies letting their domain names expire are often finding e-shops are re-registering their domain names and using them to market trademark infringing, or counterfeit, goods. But there’s no correlation between the use of the domain name prior to the e-shop and what the e-shop sells.

The study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) [pdf], through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, was on online business models used to infringe intellectual property rights. The study found when domain names were available for re-registration the entities operating the e-shops would systematically re-register the domain names and shortly after set up e-shops marketing goods suspected of infringing upon the trademarks of others. It was a characteristic that the prior use of the domain names was completely unrelated to the goods being marketed on the suspected e-shops. There were examples of domain names previously used by politicians, foreign embassies, commercial businesses and many other domain name registrants.

The study was conducted in 2 phases. Phase one looked at .dk (Denmark) from October 2014 to October 2015. During this period 566 .dk domains were re-registered by suspected infringers of trademarks immediately after the domain names had been given up by their previous registrants and became available for re-registration. Phase 2 looked at Sweden, which as a Scandinavian country would be assumed comparable with Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom, which have very well-developed and large e-commerce sectors, and a country with a large e-commerce sector in southern Europe, Spain.

Phase 2 found the same phenomenon previously documented in Denmark also occurs in the Swedish, German, British and Spanish ccTLDs.

According to the study, the “total number of detected e-shops suspected of infringing the trade marks of others using a domain name under the ccTLD” ranged from 2.9% in .de (Germany) to 9.5% in .se (Sweden) while the “total number of detected e-shops suspected of infringing the trade marks of others using a domain name under the ccTLD where the domain name had been previously used by another registrant” ranged from 71.1 % of suspected e-shops in .uk (United Kingdom) to 81.0% in .es (Spain). The average was 5.41% across all ccTLDs in the study and 75.35% respectively.

Based on the research, the researchers believe it must be considered likely that the same also occurs in other European countries with well-developed e-commerce sectors.

An analysis of the 27,970 e-shops in the study identified a number of patterns including shoes were the product category most affected, accounting for two-thirds (67.5%) of the suspected e-shops and then clothes, accounting for 20.6%, while 94.6% of the detected suspected e-shops used the same specific e-commerce software.

Additionally, 40.78 % of the detected suspected e-shops in Sweden and the United Kingdom were registered through the same registrar, 21.3 % of all the e-shops used the same name server and a quarter (25.9%) of the suspected e-shops had the hosting provider located in Turkey, 19.3 % in the Netherlands and 18.3 % in the United States.

Even if the domain name was previously used for the marketing of goods, the study found the current e-shops were marketing a different type of product at the time of analysis. The study examined 40 case studies that indicated the sole reason for re-registration of the domain names is to benefit from the popularity of the website that was previously identified by the domain name. The benefits would include search engine indexing, published reviews of services and/or products and links from other websites that have not yet taken the current use into consideration. The case studies used also indicate a high degree of affiliation between the e-shops is likely. The research seems to indicate that what on the surface seems like thousands of unrelated e-shops are likely to be one or a few businesses marketing trade mark infringing goods to European consumers.

The 140 page study is available for download from:

NABP Stresses Need for Accountability in Enforcing Internet Policies to Protect the Public From Illegal Online Drug Sellers

NABP logo[news release] Today (31/7), the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in the US issued a report urging greater accountability by the stakeholders charged with ensuring that action is taken against websites illegally selling medications online. As detailed in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: July 2015, thousands of websites illegally distribute medications and avoid retribution.
Such sites often distribute dangerous counterfeit drugs, putting at risk the health of the consumers who use them. Many of these rogue sites use domain names obtained from a small number of registrars who turn a blind eye to their illegal activity. The report highlights the need for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and domain name registrars – the stakeholders responsible for facilitating the use of Internet domain names – to enforce policies forbidding illegal use of websites and to take more accountability for shutting down rogue sites.As noted in the report, NABP holds online drug sellers accountable to the laws and standards that govern pharmacy practice and, since 2008, the Association has been collecting data on websites selling medicine illegally online to United States patients. NABP has reviewed over 11,000 Internet drug outlets, finding that 96.13% of the sites reviewed operate out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards, and identifying these sites as “Not Recommended.” Approximately 85% of Not Recommended sites are selling prescription drugs without requiring a valid prescription. Nearly 50% offer drugs that are either foreign, or not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Further, of the 10,588 Not Recommended sites, 87% can be traced to affiliate networks of rogue Internet drug outlets.Websites illegally selling drugs to patients in the US and in other countries hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, and in the gray areas between enforcement boundaries where the question of who should take responsibility for enforcing Internet policies goes unanswered. Many stakeholders, however, believe that domain name registrars and ICANN could play a greater role in protecting consumers. Registrars can make an impact by fulfilling their responsibility to shut down domains that are being used for illegal activities, and ICANN can hold registrars accountable for meeting this obligation.

The risk to public health posed by these illegally operating sites was the impetus for NABP launching the global .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program. Only legitimate Internet pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites will qualify for .pharmacy domains, giving consumers worldwide a way to distinguish safe and legal online pharmacies and resources from rogue sites. NABP began accepting applications for .pharmacy domain names in late 2014. General availability, when any entity with a pharmacy or pharmacy-related website may apply and, if approved, register for a .pharmacy domain name, began on June 3, 2015. More information about the .pharmacy TLD, including a list of approved entities with registered .pharmacy domain names, is available at www.safe.pharmacy.

For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites, visit www.AWARErx.org/get-informed/safe-acquisition/not-recommended-sites.

This NABP news release was sourced from:

US Trade Office Wants ICANN and Governments To Help Stamp Out Online Counterfeit Goods

A report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is critical of registrars that have allowed domain names to be registered and used in the distribution of unauthorised copyright-protected content. And it is urging governments and ICANN to get involved to address the problem.According to the report, one respondent identified several registrars that have apparently refused requests to lock or suspend domain names used to sell suspected counterfeit pharmaceuticals to consumers worldwide. While this is conduct is a threat to brand owners, it also presents a public health challenge, and requires a coordinated response by governments and a variety of private sector stakeholders.According to a 2012 report from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy cited by the USTR, an estimated 96 percent of online pharmacies targeting US consumers are operating in violation of applicable US law and standards.The report also cites a World Trade Organisation report estimating 50 percent of websites worldwide that hide their physical address are selling illicit pharmaceuticals, including those labelled with counterfeit trademarks. The website www.LegitScript.com has reviewed over 40,000 online drug sellers, but found fewer than 400 to be legitimate. Studies have found that counterfeit anti-cancer, anti-HIV/AIDS , and other medications are not only ineffective, but in some cases may contain toxic or deadly adulterants, such as rat poison.With relatively few lawful sources amidst a sea of harmful ones, the public faces a substantial risk when navigating these online pharmaceutical markets. In addition to the public health and safety risks, there is also economic harm. Illegal online pharmaceutical sellers can generate significant revenues each month, diverting income from legitimate innovative and generic pharmaceutical manufacturers , and depriving governments of tax revenues from legitimate sales.The USTR says registrars can play a critical public safety role in the internet ecosystem. Ignoring that role, or acting affirmatively to facilitate public harm, is of great concern. One of the registrars nominated in response to USTR’s Federal Register Request, Tucows.com, appears in the List of companies of concern and is an example of this concern. The USTR is urging trading partner governments and ICANN to investigate and address this very serious problem.But Tucows denies it is implicated in the problem. The registrar told Reuters ‘it took down dozen of sites every day but unlike some competitors, it considered all complaints carefully to ensure they were justified.'”We want to make sure that our registrants are protected and respected as well as making sure there are not bad actors on our system, and that requires striking a balance on a daily basis,” said Graeme Bunton, Tucows manager of public policy.

Chanel Takes Action On Domains Seized Selling Counterfeit Goods

When a domain name used for the sale of counterfeit Chanel goods is seized, the company posts a notice on the website utilising the domain name advising visitors they are visiting a site that sold counterfeit goods.

Internetnews.me’s Michele Neylon picked up on the notice and wrote about it on his blog, noting that Chanel advises:
This domain was once owned by a seller of replica Chanel.

Pursuant to a Judgment and Injunction of a U.S. District Court, the owners of the website previously appearing at this web address were held to have been selling replica Chanel products. For genuine Chanel merchandise, please visit the official Chanel website at www.chanel.com.

Chanel has made it a top priority to stop the sale of counterfeit products.

Chanel continuously monitors the Internet and auction websites and takes action where appropriate including but not limited to filing civil lawsuits and lodging criminal complaints against counterfeiters.

To those of you out there who may be considering the purchase of counterfeit items, we urge you to recognize that by purchasing a counterfeit product you are supporting criminal activity and ask therefore that you refuse to purchase counterfeit goods.

To the counterfeiters, bear in mind that we are watching and we are taking action.

To find where authentic Chanel products can be purchased visit Chanel.com.

Michele Neylon’s post on Internetnews.me is available at:

European And US Law Enforcement Agencies Seize 132 Domains Selling Counterfeit Merchandise

European and US law enforcement agencies have taken action against domain names involved in the selling of counterfeit goods, seizing 133 domains, arresting one person in the US and seizing $175,000.The 133 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday, an iteration of Operation In Our Sites, which is coordinated by the US law enforcement bodies.The latest operation targeted websites that duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season. The operation was coordinated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C. for the US and the European Police Office (Europol) in Europe.In addition to seizing domain names with a top-level domain (TLD) controlled by US registries, the IPR Center partnered with Europol to execute coordinated seizures of mostly European-based TLDs such as .be, .eu, .dk, .fr, .ro, and .uk. This effort is titled Project Transatlantic.During this operation, federal US law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, cologne, and a variety of clothing, jewellery and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges.”This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the IPR Center,” says ICE Director John Morton. “That partnership enables us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win.”The IPR Center and Europol received leads from various trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to ten investigating HSI field offices in Baltimore, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Newark, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Paul, Buffalo, and Ventura (Ca) and to the investigating Europol member countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.”Europol became member of the Intellectual Property Right Coordination Center (IPR Center) this year and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes. IPR theft is not a harmless or victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy,” says Mr Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.The domain names are now in the custody of the respective governments of the participating countries. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.In addition to the domain name seizures, Cyber Monday 3 identified PayPal accounts utilised by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts are currently being targeted for seizure by the investigating HSI field offices.”We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work closely with HSI to shut down criminals targeting our customers and our brand just as the holiday season takes off,” said Tod Cohen, Government Relations for eBay Inc. “PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and we hope that this is fair warning to criminals that the internet is not a safe place to try and sell fake goods.”Operation In Our Sites (IOS) is a sustained law enforcement initiative by the ICE that began more than two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the internet. The 101 domain names by ICE seized under Project Cyber Monday 3 bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,630 since the operation began in June 2010. Since that time, the seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views.Of the 1,529 previous domain names seized, 684 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after a “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government. Additionally, a public service announcement, launched in April 2011, is linked from the seizure banner on each of the 684 forfeited websites.The banner and video educate the public about the criminal consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and the economic impact that crime has on the U.S. and global economies.U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Western District of New York and the Western District of Texas issued the warrants for the seizures. Significant assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.