Government enforcement agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the Department of Justice seized more than $896,000 in proceeds from the distribution of counterfeit sports apparel as the result of an investigation into the sale of counterfeit goods on commercial websites.
The investigation also resulted in the seizure of seven domain names engaged in the sale of counterfeit goods. The funds were seized from interbank accounts and three PayPal accounts.
The investigation targeted online commercial intellectual property crime, and began in June 2010. Operation In Our Sites targets online retailers for a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses and DVD boxed sets. To date, 758 domain names of websites engaged in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works have been seized as a result of the investigation.
“Counterfeiting and intellectual property theft are seriously undermining U.S. business and innovation,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Consumers are at risk, American industry is harmed and U.S. jobs are lost. As a country, we can ill afford the toll that intellectual property theft exacts on our economy and industries.”
According to court documents, several subjects whose domain names had been seized in November 2010 continued to sell counterfeit goods using new domain names. In particular, the individuals, based in China, sold counterfeit professional and collegiate sports apparel, primarily counterfeit sports jerseys.
Law enforcement officers made numerous undercover purchases from the websites associated with the new domain names. After the goods were confirmed to be counterfeit or infringing, seizure warrants for seven domain names used to sell the goods were obtained from a U.S. magistrate judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The individuals conducted sales and processed payments for the counterfeit goods using PayPal accounts and then wired their proceeds to bank accounts held at Chinese banks. Pursuant to warrants issued by a U.S. district judge, law enforcement officers seized $826,883 in proceeds that had been transferred from PayPal accounts to various bank accounts in China. The funds were seized from correspondent, or interbank, accounts held by the Chinese banks in the United States. Officers also seized $69,504 in funds remaining in three PayPal account.
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
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