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PIPCU suspends 13,616 suspected illicit websites in 12 months

The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has seen success with the number of illicit sites it has disrupted, as a recent report shows that between 1 November 2016 and 31 October 2017 more than 13,616 have been taken down. This is an increase of almost 80 per cent on the preceding 12 month period, where 7,617 websites were taken down.

The report was published by Nominet, whose primary role is to maintain the registry for .UK domains.

The action was taken as part of Operation Ashiko, an initiative conducted by PIPCU in partnership with Nominet which targets the sale of counterfeit goods online and aims to seize the domains of infringers. PIPCU notifies Nominet that a domain is being used for criminal activity and after carrying out administrative checks, Nominet then works with the registrar to suspend the domain.

The sites disrupted by PIPCU often sell products claiming to be from well-known brands and include items such as clothes, handbags, shoes and electrical items. The items being sold are often far from the desired products that are being advertised and are in fact just cheap and inferior counterfeits.

PIPCU is warning consumers that there’s more at stake when it’s a fake when buying fake goods online as counterfeits are often of poor quality and can be potentially dangerous. The websites themselves can also be unsafe; they can contain harmful viruses and malware and your personal information is also at risk of being compromised.

February 2015: PIPCU suspends more than 2,000 illegal websites since New Year

April 2016: PIPCU and Nominet partnership secures over 3,000 website take-downs in 2015

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said:

“We work closely with Nominet to disrupt criminals who try to operate in the .UK domain and the report released today demonstrates the success we have had in doing so. 

“Since the launch of Operation Ashiko in October 2013, we have been extremely successful in removing websites selling counterfeit products. This is excellent news for both the consumer and brands and is a testament to the hard work of PIPCU in partnership with Nominet.

“In light of Nominet’s report and in the run up to Christmas, we would like to warn online shoppers that there’s more at stake when it’s a fake and that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is; heavily discounted products are often a tell-tale sign that something isn't right.”

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet said:

“A key part of our role in running the .UK internet infrastructure is to ensure that .UK is a difficult space for criminals to operate in. The upward trend in suspended domains confirms that increasingly criminals seek opportunities online, but also shows how our cooperation with the law enforcement community and our expertise in network analytics helps tackle this problem thanks to the established processes and cyber security tools we have in place.”

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