Euro coppers crack down on counterfeit sites

arrestCoppers across Europe have seized more than 4,500 website domains trading in counterfeit goods, often via social networks.

Europol, Europe’s police agency, unveiled its newest campaign dubbed “Don’t F***(AKE) Up” to stop scam websites selling fake brand names online.

In a statement the agency said that 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.

“Counterfeiters know it and are increasingly exploiting the unlimited opportunities” the internet offers.

But Europol warned that “despite these products looking like a bargain, they can pose serious risks to the health and safety of buyers.”

The crackdown involved agencies from 27 countries mostly in Europe but including from the US and Canada, joined forces to shut down over 4,500 websites.

They were selling everything from “luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products,” Europol said in a statement, without saying how long the crackdown took.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the arrests are getting to be an annual event and this year saw a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year.

Dutch anti-fraud police grabbed 12 people in the Netherlands, which should have made their eyes water,  and searched homes and warehouses.

Most of the raids were prompted by online sales of counterfeit goods on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

More than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods were seized in Holland, including shoes, bags and perfumes purporting to be such brands as Nike, Adidas, and Kenzo, with a market value of tens of thousands euros.