The regular action, supported by Eurojust and INTERPOL, targets and seizes websites offering a variety of illegal content: The main problem is predominantly intellectual property infringement of trademarks and copyrighted content available through Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and movie streaming services, peer-to-peer file sharing and hosting websites.
Many counterfeits originate from the EU
The main findings of the operation, which took place from 1 May to 14 November 2022, also show that counterfeit products are increasingly being produced within the borders of the European Union and that intellectual property crime is closely intertwined with serious and organised crime.
By this year’s Cyber Monday, law enforcement agencies on several continents had shut down 12,526 websites, taken offline 32 servers used to distribute and host illegal content for 2,294 TV channels, and shut down 15 online shops that traded counterfeit products on social media sites. On the physical side, investigators seized 127,365 counterfeit products such as clothing, watches, shoes, accessories, perfume, electronics and mobile phone cases worth more than 3.8 million euros.
These discoveries show again that counterfeit products are increasingly being produced within the European Union. They also highlight the increasing overlap of intellectual property crimes with tax evasion and money laundering. The high profits from these criminal activities underline how important it is for law enforcement authorities to conduct financial investigations and asset recovery simultaneously.
Fraudsters increasingly target e-commerce
Europol expressly warns people to keep their eyes open, especially when shopping online in the run-up to Christmas, and not to buy fake products via illegal platforms. Fakes can often pose an actual health and safety risk to consumers. Buying them encourages criminal networks, whose dubious machinations typically branch out far and wide and are co-financed through online commerce.