Law enforcement agencies seize 132 domains, identify infringing PayPal accounts
Law enforcements agencies from countries including US, UK, Denmark, France, Belgium and Romania seized 132 domains selling counterfeit merchandise online. The PayPal accounts used by the seized domains were also targeted for investigation and seizure. Nearly a crore of rupees were identified as proceeds in these PayPal accounts.
A US government release reported that the custody of seized domains was now with the respective governments. "This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win" said John Morton, (ICE).
The operation was coordinated by Washington D.C based National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). Notable participating agencies included Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and European Union’s criminal enforcement establishment Europol.
The online sellers were reportedly selling counterfeit products of various brands including those of security software makers McAfee and Symantec, and fashion labels like Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace and Gucci among others. Other items included professional sports jerseys, DVDs and jewellery.
The domain seizures have a global effect because international top level domains including .eu and .uk were also seized. It has not been reported if any of the infringing domains belonged to Indian nationals. However a 2011 IPR Center Threat Report and Survey said ‘India-based IPR infringement, particularly counterfeit pharmaceuticals, content piracy, and automobile parts, poses an economic threat to United States IP interests’
3.75 crore unique Indian visitors found their way to retail portals online, according to ASSOCHAM and comScore’s State of E-Commerce report. To all online buyers in India, this round of domain seizures is yet another reminder to beware of fraudulent websites that sell counterfeit products. IPR offered tips to online buyers in its IP Fraud Tip Sheet which included being aware of spam email offers and being cautious when product prices are significantly lower than normal.
According to a recent quarterly threats report by McAfee, global spam volumes have seen a record increase in 2012. The report confirmed that while overall volumes in India were on the decline, drug-related spamming made up for more than half of spam originating from India.
Authorities are increasing their fight against criminal and anti-social activity on the internet. The announcement of a permanent Joint Working Group was an apparent move by the Government of India to actively step up its efforts to tackle cyber threats.