IPR Center seizes more than 1 million illegal websites ahead of Cyber Monday


IPR Center seizes more than 1 million illegal websites ahead of Cyber Monday

30,506 website domain names seized as part of criminal and civil cases

WASHINGTON – More than 1 million copyright-infringing domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works are now in custody of the federal government, thanks to the combined efforts of law enforcement agencies across the world. Federal agencies, as part of the National Intellectual Property Rights Center (IPR Center), seized the websites during the year leading up to Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

“Operation In Our Sites, which launched in 2014, is a comprehensive approach to making the internet a safer place for consumers and legitimate business owners,” said Steve Francis, director of the IPR Center. “For most, the holidays represent a season of goodwill and giving, but for criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers because of the popularity of online shopping.”

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The ongoing IPR enforcement initiative targeting fake websites, dubbed Operation In Our Sites, was facilitated by the IPR Center, a joint-task force agency led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The IPR Center, which stands at the forefront of the U.S. government’s response to IP theft, worked directly with key international law enforcement authorities and industry organizations representing the electronics sector, luxury brand-name designers, film and entertainment and several entities specializing in apparel and accessories through the major enforcement effort.


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Roughly 30,500 website domain names were criminally seized in a collaborative effort between ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Europol, Interpol and police agencies from approximately 20 different countries. Industry partners participating in the operation were fully responsible for civilly seizing 1.11 million domain names and shutting down 3.03 million erroneous e-commerce links featured on social media platforms and third-party marketplaces.

This year’s investigations led to the takedown of several illicit websites domain names by IPR Center agencies including -,,, and These websites sell items like counterfeit pharmaceuticals, pirated films, television shows, music, software, electronics and other fake products.

Each year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners and online. Additionally, criminals have taken advantage of the internet to deceive, sell and ship fake products directly to American consumers. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include watches, jewelry, handbags, wallets, wearing apparel and accessories, consumer electronics and parts, pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

The IPR Center – formally codified in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 – is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy.

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The center uses the expertise of 25 key federal and international agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft and commercial fraud crimes. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the warfighters.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit

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Black Friday Shopping: Protect Your Identity

Black Friday is one of the most lucrative shopping days of the year for retailers in brick-and-mortar shops and online, but shoppers aren't the only ones looking for deals. Malicious people may be able to obtain personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses) by stealing your wallet, overhearing a phone conversation, rummaging through your trash (a practice known as dumpster diving), or picking up a receipt at a restaurant that has your account number on it. If a thief has enough information, he or she may be able to impersonate you to purchase items, open new accounts, or apply for loans.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) encourages holiday shoppers to take the following identity theft precautions:

  • Take advantage of security features. Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately. (See Choosing and Protecting Passwords.)
  • Check privacy policies. Take precautions when providing information, and make sure to check published privacy policies to see how a company will use or distribute your information. (See Protecting Your Privacy.)
  • Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
  • Be careful what information you publicize. Attackers may be able to piece together information from a variety of sources. Avoid posting personal data in public forums. (See Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites.)


Operation Holiday Hoax seizes counterfeit toys worth more than $5M

In a port that is capable of handling more than 2.4 million tons of cargo in a year, you would think a containerized cargo shipment of toys could easily get lost in the daily shuffle. Not so, when a suspicious shipment arrives from China containing counterfeit toys, some of which tested positive for lead content.

The discovery was part of “Operation Holiday Hoax,” a multi-agency enforcement effort involving Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-Cartagena’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU), Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Container Security Initiative (CSI), the Colombian Police Fiscal and Customs Unit, and the National Directorate of Tax and Customs (DIAN).  The team seized a total of 155,000 units of toys suspected of trademark infringement involving Disney, Marvel Characters Inc., Pep​pa Pig and L.O.L. Surprise! brands that – if genuine –would retail for more than $5.4 million.

HSI-Cartagena, in conjunction with DIAN, targeted a suspicious shipment of more than 500 cartons from Hong Kong said to contain mostly toys last August. Four more containers were targeted for inspection in September and October. An inspection of the shipments revealed more counterfeit toys including some that were collected for further lead testing.

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“ICE in Cartagena is committed to working with our Colombian partners and private industry to combat trademark infringement,” said Assistant Attaché Antonio Crespo. “We want to protect consumers from potential health hazards that often come with merchandise made with unapproved industrial materials and processes."

The seizure comes on the heels of HSI-Cartagena’s Operation Firefox, as agents seized nearly 36,000 pairs of counterfeit athletic shoes and more than 1,000 other miscellaneous items connected with copyright infringement involving top brands such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Reebok, Puma, and Under Armour. The street value of the merchandise totaled $55 million.


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