Nearly 500,000 websites worldwide presumably trading in counterfeits shut down, and around 2.6 million euros worth of counterfeits seized, including fake clothing and pharmaceuticals – this is the result of this year’s operation In Our Sites (IOS), which focuses on fighting websites involved in the counterfeit trade and online piracy. The IOS operation was supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3), Eurojust, and Interpol.
Officials confiscated hundreds of thousands of counterfeits, including more than 42,000 counterfeit shoes, clothing, and various accessories products, as well as more than 180,000 boxes of counterfeit medical products. They also seized eleven copies of artworks and around 40 vehicles. A total of twelve suspects were arrested, 48 criminal prosecutions were opened, and cash worth around 460,000 euros was confiscated.
This year’s operation took place from early May to mid-November and was the twelfth edition of the ongoing global IOS initiative, launched in 2014. Law enforcement agencies from 30 countries1 were involved this year, including many EU member states as well as further countries, such as the United States. The authorities highlighted that more and more countries are participating in the operation each year – for instance, the previous year’s operation involved authorities from 26 countries; at the time, some 22,000 domains were taken offline.
„The sale of counterfeit goods and pirated materials is becoming an increasingly serious problem for law enforcement authorities for a number of reasons,“ Europol said in an announcement on the action. The problem, the agency said, was that fraudsters remained anonymous online and could operate across borders in e-commerce. Consumers had access to more illegal goods than ever before, and at the same time they were often unaware of the risks of counterfeit goods.