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PIPCU announces innovative operation to protect victims on World IP Day

  • PIPCU announces Operation Chargewell in celebration of innovation on World IP Day
  • The operation assists victims of counterfeit websites in obtaining a refund
  • PIPCU has been running a pilot of the scheme, in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group, since July 2018

In celebration of World IP Day, today (29 April 2019) the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has announced its latest operation that assists victims of counterfeit websites in obtaining a refund.

How does it work?

Operation Chargewell will ensure victims who buy counterfeit items unwittingly and report it to their bank, will be directed to PIPCU who will assist with having their money returned.

When a victim asks their bank for a refund after buying a counterfeit item online, the bank refers the victim to PIPCU which collects information from the victim about the site and the payment details. PIPCU then works with brand protection contacts in the creative industries and confirms that the item is counterfeit. Once this is confirmed, the bank and victim are informed and the refund can be processed by the bank.

Working in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group, PIPCU has been running a pilot of the scheme since July 2018 and is now hoping that the success of this pilot will encourage other banks to consider the benefits.

Disruption tactics

Alongside the police carrying out traditional methods of prevention, PIPCU also turns to disruption tactics. These can include working with domain registers and registrars to take down websites involved in intellectual property crime, in addition to operations such as Chargewell which add another layer of disruption.

Since its inception in 2013, PIPCU has been instrumental in taking down over 60,000 websites selling counterfeit items through its designated Operation Ashiko.

International recognition

As a result of its innovative techniques, the unit has found itself at the forefront of the international IP crime fight, having received two awards in the past year alone.

In September 2018, PIPCU received the annual Intellectual Property Champions Award for Excellence in Enforcement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center. This was the first time the Excellence in Enforcement award had been received by a member of the international law enforcement community.

Then in April 2019, PIPCU was awarded for its work on digital piracy by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

At the Global Anti-Piracy Seminar, the IFPI recognised PIPCU’s work which has included disrupting £719 million worth of IP crime and developing the Infringing Website List.

Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell, head of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: “We are constantly striving to create innovative methods of combatting IP crime with Operation Chargewell being the latest example.

“This ground-breaking operation will ensure that victims of unwanted counterfeit purchases will have their money returned.

“Our work with industry and our partners, like Lloyds Banking Group, means that we are always finding new ways to keep people safe and will continue to do so.”

Brian Dilley, Group Direction Fraud and Financial Crime Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Helping keep our customers’ money safe is a top priority and our 24/7 fraud team is working behind the scenes every day to up the ante in the fight against fraudsters."

Debra Linge, Industry Lead Fraud and Financial Crime Lloyds Banking Group, who has worked closely with the City of London Police over the past 10 months, stated: “This new pilot means we can help customers who have unwittingly received counterfeit items to get their money back faster, but also stop these fraudsters at the source by sharing information with the City of London Police. We hope the success of this public private partnership will encourage more banks to get on board – the more of us there are working together to share this type of data, the greater the crackdown will be.”


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