The Europol conducted a massive crackdown against websites offering counterfeit products as part of the campaign dubbed “Don’t F***(AKE) Up.” The European law enforcement agency aims to halt the activity of online scammers who offer for sale fake brands.
The agency launched a public awareness and prevention campaign online to allow netizens spotting fake websites and social media scams.
This sale of these products causes serious damage to the finance and the reputation of the official brands, in some cases, they pose a serious threat to “the health and safety of buyers.”
Authorities seized more than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods, including shoes, bags and perfumes purporting to be such brands as Nike, Adidas, and Kenzo.
Dutch anti-fraud police have identified and arrested 12 people across the country and searched their homes.
“The internet has become an essential channel for e-commerce. Its instant global reach and anonymity make it possible to sell nearly anything to anyone at any time,” reads the official statement from the Europol.
“Counterfeiters know it and are increasingly exploiting the unlimited opportunities” the internet offers.
The operation involved law enforcement agencies across 27 countries in Europe, in the US and Canada. Authorities shut down more than 4,500 websites that were used by criminal organizations to offer for sale various products, including “luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products.”
This operation is the result of a continuous effort spent by law enforcement worldwide, every year European authorities seize thousands of domains with the support of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security.
“a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year,” said Europol director Rob Wainwright.
The police observed a significant increase in the number of sale of counterfeit goods through the social networking platform, including Facebook and Instagram.
“This is a relatively new phenomenon in the trade in counterfeit brand names,”states an official statement from the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).
This is a profitable period for crooks, starting from the Black Friday and going on for the entire holiday time, users are more exposed to such kind of scams.
“When shopping online, you are more likely to fall victim to counterfeiters,” it said as “without the physical product to look at and feel, it can be more difficult for you to spot the differences.”
(Security Affairs –Fake Brands,Europol)