US authorities seized 70 websites suspected of selling counterfeit goods using luxury brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany or Burberry and sports logos like NFL and MLB, officials said Thursday.
The seizures under five separate warrants in US courts is the latest action of Project Copy Cat, an effort of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office.
ICE director John Morton said the latest seizures included some highly sophisticated operations, which created websites that looked nearly identical to legitimate ones.
Some sites also use a fake SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate that leads customers to believe their credit cards are encrypted, officials said.
Since the effort began in 2010, a total of 839 websites or domain names have been seized.
This includes websites using the name louisvuittononlineoutletus.com or tiffanyandcojewelrysale.net, aimed at deceiving consumers into thinking they are purchasing legitimate goods from Tiffany or Louis Vuitton.
Many of the goods are counterfeit items made in China, officials said.
The seized sites, all hosted in the United States, have their front page replaced with images of federal seals from the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
Visitors to the sites are met with a message reading: “This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”
Cole said the owners of the websites have an opportunity to contest the seizure in court by showing they are selling legitimate goods.
Of the 769 previous domain names seized, 229 have now been forfeited to the US government, officials said.
During the operation, federal agents made undercover purchases of a host of products, including baby carriers, professional sports jerseys, language and fitness DVD sets, and a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods.