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ICE Seizes 70 Counterfeit Web Sites

07/12/2012 -The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has shuttered 70 Web sites accused of selling counterfeit goods.

Many of the sites closely resembled legitimate ones, according to an ICEstatement. “It would be difficult for even the most discerning consumer to tell the difference.” Some of the sites also had fake Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, which aim to show the sites use SSL encryption to protect sensitive financial and other information during an online transaction.

A banner on the sites states they have been seized by federal officials.

The sites were closed as part of Operation Copy Cat, part of a two-year-old anti-counterfeiting effort called Operation In Our Sites (IOS), which has seized a total of 839 domain names to date. After any seizure, interested individuals have a period of time to file a petition with a federal court, according to ICE; if no petition is filed, the domains become property of the U.S. government.

During the operation, law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a range of products including baby carriers, sports jerseys, clothing, and jewelry. In most cases, the goods were shipped to the U.S. from abroad. If the copyright holders confirmed that the products were fake or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names were obtained from a federal judge, according to ICE.