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Federal Officials Take Down 132 Websites In "Cyber Monday" Crackdown 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the law-won dept.
coondoggie writes "A team of world-wide law enforcement agencies took out 132 domain names today that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online. The group, made up of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, United Kingdom and the European Police Office, targeted alleged counterfeiters selling everything from professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, and a variety of clothing to jewelry and luxury goods."
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Federal Officials Take Down 132 Websites In "Cyber Monday" Crackdown

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  • Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:26PM (#42098279)
    Why is Homeland Security dealing with counterfeit product sales?

    Are sales of fake professional sports jerseys jeopardizing our national security now?

    • Re:Question (Score:5, Funny)

      by hduff (570443) <hoytduff&gmail,com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:28PM (#42098311) Homepage Journal

      Why is Homeland Security dealing with counterfeit product sales?

      Are sales of fake professional sports jerseys jeopardizing our national security now?

      You do not need to ask questions, citizen. Move along. Nothing to see here.

      And turn off that camera!

      • by dimeglio (456244)

        Why is Homeland Security dealing with counterfeit product sales?

        Are sales of fake professional sports jerseys jeopardizing our national security now?

        You do not need to ask questions, citizen. Move along. Nothing to see here.

        Perhaps profits from counterfeit merchandise finances terrorism?

        • yeah, if they don't care about being legal when making money, they might not care about being legal when spending it either.

      • by nhat11 (1608159)

        Because that money support some pretty strong criminal organization or support for drugs, etc.

    • Re:Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Thud457 (234763) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:29PM (#42098339) Homepage Journal
      "when you buy that fake Movada, you're rolling with al Qaeda [nytimes.com]."
      • "when you buy that fake Movada, you're rolling with al Qaeda [nytimes.com]."

        ''Consequently, terrorist groups turned to a variety of activities, including charitable contributions, narcotics trafficking, cigarette smuggling and I believe selling counterfeit products,'' Mr. Johnson said.

        Right from the article. Note the BOLD.

        Give me a break.

    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:31PM (#42098353) Homepage

      Because Homeland Security is just an umbrella for several pre-existing agencies, one of which is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)

      • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:43PM (#42098569)

        Because Homeland Security is just an umbrella for several pre-existing agencies, one of which is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)

        HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) appears to be at least a separate branch of ICE. The article even implies that these are two organizations working in tandem

        From the website:

        HSI investigates immigration crime, human rights violations and human smuggling, smuggling of narcotics, weapons and other types of contraband, financial crimes, cybercrime and export enforcement issues. ICE special agents conduct investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure industries that are vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation.

        One of these things is not like the others (emphasis mine).
        Good to know that designer handbag manufacturers are now part of the "critical infrastructure industries".

        • Some things, while superficially very different, require mostly the same methods to control. While you're checking for drugs, you might as well take a quick look to check for counterfeit items. Why duplicate agencies, if you can add another task to an existing one, thereby saving paperwork and cash?

          • Oh, like the DEA, ATF, ICE, FBI, CIA and NSA that overlap in a lot of areas? Or the Air Force, Navy Marines and Army... Yeah.. working efficiently is not something the government does much of.
        • I believe HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) is a directive or division within ICE but ICE is also and agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

          http://www.ice.gov/about/offices/homeland-security-investigations/ [ice.gov]

          (Note the link to DHS.gov at the bottom of the page)

          Granted, it's a clusterfsck of terminology that makes you wonder about priorities, but I think the parent was correct.

      • Exactly. Don't "You, Mr. America", remember "demanding" all this stuff be brought under one agency in your panic after 9/11? Trillions of extra dollars have been spent on it, money that would have been much better spent on medical technology, saving-lives-wise.

        • by tnk1 (899206)

          I think you're making a point about government waste, but you're failing to address the real issue.

          There is nothing wrong with taking a dozen or whatever organizations that all had useful information that they would not or could not share and adding them to one umbrella so they actually do their work better. That was what people demanded.

          The problem was that instead of just doing that, they managed to somehow spend a crapton of money doing it and also adding a lot of crap no one wanted.

          As far as spending m

    • by Anonymous Coward

      yes .. didn't you know that buy purchasing a fake NFL jersey from some guy in Wisconsin, who gets his supplies from the guy operating the jersey making machine on nightshift and is selling them out the back door, you are funding terrorism in a foreign country?

    • 1 if you ever deal with %bignum% amount of actual cash in a bust then the Secret Service will just about call you

      2 anything that goes overseas will cause HomeLand Security to start noticing (possible vector for THEM) of course i think HS is sort of a Macro Dial to most of the TLA stack anyway.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858)

        1 if you ever deal with %bignum% amount of actual cash in a bust then the Secret Service will just about call you

        2 anything that goes overseas will cause HomeLand Security to start noticing (possible vector for THEM) of course i think HS is sort of a Macro Dial to most of the TLA stack anyway.

        Right; because, as Iran-Contra (among others) taught us, the Federal Government maintains exclusive right to funding third-world authoritarian dickheads.

      • I have a couple questions:

        1. This guy in Jersey - he's a licensed exporter/freight forwarded with a customs license I take it?
        2. Isn't there an assumption that most other countries outside the US even know what 'NFL' stands for, or would want to watch it, much less buy junk paraphernalia related to it..?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tontoman (737489) *
      "Intellectual property rights theft is not a victimless crime. It threatens U.S. businesses and robs hard-working Americans of their jobs, which negatively impacts the economy. It can also pose serious health and safety risks to consumers, and oftentimes, it fuels global organized crime." Here is a link to Homeland Security's rationale: http://www.dhs.gov/topic/intellectual-property-rights [dhs.gov]
      • Re:Question (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:52PM (#42098709) Homepage Journal
        Find: Intellectual property rights theft
        Replace With: The Drug War

        "The Drug War is not a victimless crime. It threatens U.S. businesses and robs hard-working Americans of their jobs, which negatively impacts the economy. It can also pose serious health and safety risks to consumers, and oftentimes, it fuels global organized crime." Here is a link to Homeland Security's rationale: http://www.dhs.gov/topic/intellectual-property-rights [dhs.gov]

        Fun with words.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        There is a point to this rationale. How do you maintain a skilled workforce, benefits, and innovation if as soon as you make something, if you can immediately have it copied by someone who treats their workforce as little better than slave labor?

        Lots of people around here like unions, or at least "living wages" for those who are less fortunate, but they fail to explain how they will achieve that without protectionist activities, which would only increase the need for ICE/DHS to make these sorts of raids?

        Th

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          > They pay people so little in China, they artificially deflate their currency, have little regard for environmental and
          > occupational regulations to the point where it costs less to make it *and* ship it all the way across the Pacific
          > Ocean than it does to have American workers make it at home and simply have it trucked a few hundred miles.
          > People want to pay less for what they buy, and then wonder why they don't get paid more.

          At the same time though, conditions in China do seem on a path to

          • At the same time though, conditions in China do seem on a path to improvement. I have seen articles...

            I remeber as a kid watching nightly news reports of the last major Chinese famine (circa 1969), regardless of what anyone thinks of their system of government the fact is that since they booted out the gang of four in the 70's China has dragged more people out of abject poverty than the rest of the world combined. That's quite an achievement, the fact that their current living standards are considered a vast improvement is a poignent reminder of how trully fucked-up life was in Mao's utopia.

      • Nice words. Now, how many of the "genuine" articles for which "counterfeit" item sellers were shut down are actually made in the USA? I venture it is so close to zero as makes no difference. Certainly not protecting US manufacturing worker's job then. How many people who spent $30 for a knock-off "counterfeit" item would have actually spent $300 in a US "genuine" retailer for the same item? Not too many, so I doubt luxury item retail worker numbers will be substantially increased by this enforcement

    • Homeland Security is what tons of government agencies all roll-up to. I believe the Secret Service historically has been in charge of dealing with counterfeit product sales, and now they roll up to Homeland Security.

      • IIRC, The Secret Service investigates counterfeit money, not counterfeit items in general. Customs investigates the import of counterfeit items.

        • I'm sorry, you're correct. Brain fart on my part.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            No, you're just a victim of the fact that the jurisdictions of federal agencies make no sense whatsoever. Just the name of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms exemplifies this problem.

    • Alex Jones says it all the time Home Land Security is the most powerful agency in the US. They do what they want when they want.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      because it has nothing to do with security - and like any politician, they have to look like they're doing *something!*

      and no consumer was harmed from some kind of magic counterfeit goods site that won't buy it from another counterfeit goods site.

    • by macraig (621737)

      "Homeland" in this instance doesn't mean what you think it means. Think "corporate". :-|

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Why is Homeland Security dealing with counterfeit product sales?
      Are sales of fake professional sports jerseys jeopardizing our national security now?

      If you believe the hype, yes.

      Because a sale of a fake jersey funnels money into terroristist organizations who sell the stuff to raise cash to do more attacks on America.

      Counterfeit goods have traditionally been a way for gangs and mobsters to raise money for their operations in the past, and modern era fundraising for terrorist organizations also invol

      • by timeOday (582209)
        That line of argument would make a lot more sense if they'd been pursuing a particular criminal organization and then moved to take down their illegal source of income, which happened to be trademark violation.

        That's not to say global intellectual property rights should go unprotected; only that it should not be rolled into "national security." For that matter, I wouldn't mind seeing it accounted for separately, so that whiny companies and CEOs can be reminded why they deserve to pay a tax rate above 0%.

    • by dnaumov (453672)

      Why is Homeland Security dealing with counterfeit product sales?

      Are sales of fake professional sports jerseys jeopardizing our national security now?

      When IP becomes your country's biggest export, you bet.

    • by rs79 (71822)

      Please. They've been doing this forever: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/CustomsToday/2002/February/other/christmas.xml [cbp.gov]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How many of these sites were taking down for selling properly counterfeit goods, and how many were taken down for buying products made by a foreign arm of a international corporation and reselling them in a different market.

    If these are proper forgers, good deal. If these are "grey market importers," fuck this.

    (I hate the term "grey market," once you sell me something it's mine. If I choose to resell it, that's my business. You don't want me to resell it, don't sell it to me)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm for one am looking forward to the obligatory article in coming days:Cyber Monday Crackdown Takes Down 131 Websites by Mistake

  • by AioKits (1235070) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:38PM (#42098487)
    I in fact DID NOT get a good deal on my new Sorny 52" plasma flat screen or my Magnetbox bluray player?
    • by Trepidity (597)

      au contraire, you got a deal so good the feds had to shut it down!

    • first tip-off should have been them claiming 1080-HA! resolution.

    • I in fact DID NOT get a good deal on my new Sorny 52" plasma flat screen or my Magnetbox bluray player?

      Nope. Now if it was a genuine Panaphonics...

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      I thought there was something funny about my Appel iPADD,. . .
    • you think you got problems? What's the return policy for ocelot cubs?

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Heh. Although, "counterfeit" does not necessarily imply inferior quality. Sometimes it is nothing but an unlicensed extra production run on the same assembly line that makes the "real" thing. Or, sometimes it is simple arbitrage; "grey imports" of brand-name goods that were supposed to be sold for less profit in poorer markets.
      • by chrismcb (983081)
        "Grey imports" are not counterfeits. And while there may be unlicensed product that was generated on the same assembly line, I've never seen a counterfeit product that was as good a quality as the original. The vast majority of counterfeit products are products of inferior quality. Shutting down sellers of counterfeit products is more to protect the consumer than to protect the IP of big corporations.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where is the list of the 132 websites?
  • I'll bet the people who own these domains hate it worse than I do, though.

    • by Zemran (3101)

      They are probably still up and running with one of their other domains and it is only you, the prospective customer, that does not know how to find them. I stopped registering .com etc. a long time ago because I do not trust the thought police, these guys also have second domains in more stable regions. This only really hurts the US credibility and economy.

  • I'm not endorsing crime, nor advocating that criminals and suddenly the victims, but is the US federal government in the right to seize domains?

    If the websites are breaking laws, aren't there other due processes to follow? Shouldn't we be working with foreign law enforcement agencies to go after those people rather than simply taking their domains?

    A domain is property. Simply taking the property of others without due process (especially of people not in your jurisdiction) isn't exactly fair or Constitutional. I fear this behavior will add credence to the argument of the US relinquishment of key TLDs and possibly splintering the internet in the future.

    • by Warhawke (1312723)
      The domains in question are licensed (i.e. not property) via a U.S. based registrar for .com, .net, etc. TLDs. In essence, this puts you under U.S. jurisdiction since you are agreeing to licensing terms with a U.S. business. Or at least this is how the argument goes. I fear you may be correct that that argument will further the US relinquishment of key TLDs. At least the strong majority of these domains were pretty evidently selling infringing goods. It also helps that trademark, patent, and copyright
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_detention_camp [wikipedia.org] (& dozens others like it).

      I think 'due process' in the US got a major rewrite during the Clinton era. Justice is for the just and the poor only it would seem. If they can seize human beings & detain them without any substantive evidence required, then I don't think web domains are high on the list of human rights violations you should be concerned with. Just sayin...

    • by Zemran (3101)

      This is exactly why the US is not fit to run the global domains. The US keeps using this position to apply US law to other countries which is extremely wrong. People here seem to think that there is only one law and that it is right but that is just stupid. If someone in Azerbaijan or Iran wants to sell their DVDs or clothes or whatever, which they are legally allowed to sell on the high street, to a wider audience, why not? The US keeps selling their crap to Azerbaijan etc. without any regard to their

      • If someone in Azerbaijan wants to sell their singular copy of a DVD they own, they can do so.

        If someone in Azerbaijan wants to pirate a movie and then sell copies of the pirated movie, then that is illegal in most countries in the world, though many don't enforce the law to protect IP owned outside of the country.

        The greatest export the US has is IP. The world reads our books, watches our movies, listens to our music, plays our games and uses our software. The MPAA/RIAA/etc act like idiotic douchebags, but

        • by Zemran (3101)

          I realise that you may have a limited education but it is not a pirated movie in Azerbaijan. This is exactly the type of narrow minded stupidity that we are talking about. You can sell a copy of a movie in a store on the high street in Azerbaijan and there is no law being broken. The greatest stupidity that the US has is thinking that IP is a object that you can export but do not worry, you can carry on living in your American dream while the rest of us wake up.

          The guilds were abolished in the middle age

          • by fatphil (181876)
            Since when did Azerbaijan unsign themselves from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty? Everything I can find indicates they've been signatories since 1999 and 2006 respectively.
            • by Zemran (3101)

              Living there tells me that no one bothered to change the law to comply with your pieces of paper. How about Iran? Did they also sign your paper? Do they care if they did?

              • by fatphil (181876)
                You living there tells me nothing apart from the fact that you spout unresearched assertions despite having a better opportunity than others in being able to know how things actually are.

                Them *signing* the Berne convention et al. *changed their law* - international agreements are an integral part of legal system of Azerbaijan. Whether Azerbaijani authorities are too ignorant, lazy, or corrupt to actually enforce the laws that they have agreed to uphold is of course another matter. (Transparency.org implies
                • by Zemran (3101)

                  I am fully aware of the reality in Iran, far more than you, as you only read articles on the internet rather than do any real research. I am also aware of what the reality is in Azerbaijan and how that differs from what you read on the internet. Maybe you should travel more instead of just reading about the world and you will find out how different it is from what you read. My research is based on reality and yours is based on the writings of other people that you have never met, but you wish to insult m

                  • by fatphil (181876)
                    I now have to break it to you that part of the point you are trying to argue against was actually lifted almost word for word from the official English translation of the Azerbaijan constitution. I changed a few words into synonyms so that it wasn't so much messy legalese, but meaning-wise it's identical. So stop pretending you actually have some insight - you don't even know what's under your own nose. Then again, given your unwillingness to put any effort into any research, I'm unsurprised you are aware o
              • The actual law did change in 1996. Again, one of us is ignorant. It isn't me.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_Azerbaijan [wikipedia.org]

          • You would be mistaken. It is in fact illegal. Almost every country in the world does in fact have copyright laws. And almost every country in the world has signed global copyright treaties. Azerbaijan is no exception. However, they aren't enforced.

            Not enforcing the law doesn't magically make something legal. The fact that the government of Azerbaijan isn't actually protecting US interests doesn't make it legal.

            Your ignorance doesn't entitle you to question my education.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright [wikipedia.org]

      • This is exactly why the US is not fit to run the global domains. The US keeps using this position to apply US law to other countries which is extremely wrong. People here seem to think that there is only one law and that it is right but that is just stupid. If someone in Azerbaijan or Iran wants to sell their DVDs or clothes or whatever, which they are legally allowed to sell on the high street, to a wider audience, why not? The US keeps selling their crap to Azerbaijan etc. without any regard to their laws and then says that all these countries must abide by US laws. Most of us just move away from .com but why should we? This is wrong and the US should stick to policing its own people.

        I guess the U.S. just likes to push the limits to see how far they can go until they break or lose privileges.

        Man, this agency is acting just like a kid growing up.

    • If the websites are breaking laws, aren't there other due processes to follow? Shouldn't we be working with foreign law enforcement agencies to go after those people rather than simply taking their domains?

      You're right, but I believe that's the whole point of this article. There is no due process and this agency was created to bypass it. How wide will it spread?

      This looks like a job for..... DHS!"

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      I'm not endorsing crime, nor advocating that criminals and suddenly the victims, but is the US federal government in the right to seize domains?

      How else would you expect this to work?
      Let us suppose that this is a storefront, selling counterfeit goods. If there is enough evidence the goods are illegal, the government will generally arrest the owners and shut the store down. How is this any different? They didn't take the property to keep forever, and according the article due process appears to be being followed. Don't forget that this wasn't just the US, but the US working with foreign law enforcement agencies.
      Are you suggesting that they shoul

  • Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:57PM (#42098783)

    So the world governments do nothing to cut off spammers, scammers, child pornographers or anything that actually burns members of the public, but the moment some big corporations profits from monopolistic practices look like they are being challenged they spring into action and kill it dead in seconds.

    • Though, in reality, I have few actual problems with this sort of enforcement (aside from the fact that cutting off domain names shouldn't be possible for a government without a trial). Though the hypocrisy of the situation is still not lost on me.

    • by cmseagle (1195671)
      Or, you know, people selling counterfeit merchandise have to be relatively easy for customers to consistently find, while the other criminals you mention are actively avoiding detection, and have no reason to stay on the same domains/servers for very long, making them much harder to shut down.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      It's interesting that the government is more jealous in protecting the interests large corporations (e.g. the article to which we are responding) than defending the solvency of the government itself:

      Using complex schemes to shift U.S. revenue overseas, Microsoft was able to avoid paying taxes on $21 billion in revenue between 2009 and 2011, amounting to about half its total U.S. sales, according to the subcommittee report. The company avoided paying $4.5 billion in taxes, or about $4 million per day, during

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:00PM (#42098839) Homepage

    I wish they'd bust the thieves in Washington who are counterfeiting dollars...

    (Ooh, a little bit political)

    • by Krojack (575051)

      They don't need to counterfeit it. They just add some pork in a bill that funnels the dollars to some company they or a family member owns.

    • When you own legitimate intaglio presses and plates, it isn't counterfeiting. No matter how much linenthatfeelskindalikepaper they press it will never be counterfeit, always legitimate. At least in the foreseeable future.
      • by Richy_T (111409)

        I think you mean "when you own lots and lots of guns". And while what you may say is true for fiat, it arguably wouldn't be if the currency was actually backed by anything (not that I'm arguing for the gold standard).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    from buying cheaper versions of expensive products rather than wasting their time saving companies billions of dollars and people millions of man-hours by tracking down and incarcerating spammers and malware distributors. ICE and HSI should be commended ... no wait, fucking disbanded is what I meant to say.

    • I 've often wondered why Rolex knockoff makers don't come up with their own awesome designs and sell them the normal way. If they can still turn a profit at $10, why not?

      Anyone with the money to buy overpriced "premium" stuff, and wants to, more power to you. The rest of you go hoof it to K-Mart.

  • This would have taken months of blabbing over and most likely blocked by China because they make most counterfeit products.

    Just sayin'.

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Monday November 26, 2012 @07:05PM (#42100135)

    Due process, what an archaic concept!

    This kind of law enforcement behavior eradicates any lingering sympathy I might have had for the "copyright holders."

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      If they were B&M stores, at minimum the suspected counterfeit merchandise would have been confiscated. Earlier this year such a thing happened around the Super Bowl here with counterfeit jerseys and other NFL apparel [theindychannel.com]. If the entire store was counterfeit, the store would be effectively shut down.

      In essence, due process is being followed the same way for the domain as it does with a B&M store. It's taken a wile previously, but domains that were mistakenly taken were eventually returned. I know that

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Due process, what an archaic concept!

      When your car gets towed for parking in front of a fire hydrant, there's no trial before-hand. That doesn't mean you've been deprived of due-process, just because your property is seized up-front.

      • by Tokolosh (1256448)

        Your car analogy only works if it is taken to be crushed, while you have to pay a fortune and wait months and years for the opportunity to haul away the scrap metal.

        Oh, and then it turns out that it wasn't really a fire hydrant, just a dog pissoir.

  • This is why the US cant be trusted to control the internet.

    They did do very well with their propaganda campaign against the UN though.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448)

      No single country or organization can be trusted with the internet. That is why there have to be multiple organizations and protocols that function in parallel. If one gets captured by vested interests, then the alternatives keep going.

  • By coincidence, 132 was the number of usenet newsgroups that the UK government and police demanded all UK ISPs block access too back in ~1996.

    And as you can see - there's no offensive material on usenet any more, so such efforts are clearly highly successful.
  • Only in the most ridiculously convoluted sense could pirated content and counterfeit merchandise have any relationship whatsoever with "Homeland Security".

    Over my Thanksgiving break, I rented a few DVDs and the catchy new screen warning you that "Piracy is not a victimless crime" has a picture of a bronze badge labeled "Homeland Security". I could only roll my eyes and wonder what idiot authorized Hollywood to use it.

    We've got these budget talks going on right now. If DHS has spare personnel and resource

  • I guess they need to make the DHS look like they're doing something.

    That or the gov't is laundering tax payer money by channeling it through a popular organization, bypassing the budget constraints of others (FBI, DOC) who should actually be handling these issues.

    Oh, wait. That's right. The DHS can act as they wish without court orders, sufficient evidence, or any other aspect of due process. My bad.

    /snark

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