WASHINGTON (WUSA) - The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center seized 70 websites for selling counterfeit merchandise. Authorities say the websites so "closely resembled the legitimate websites that it would be difficult for even the most discerning consumer to tell the difference."
The websites fooled many customers, even appearing to have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates that usually signal that customers can trust they are sending their financial information to a safe server through encryption. That was not the case, say federal authorities.
Authorities were able to seize the websites during Project Copy Cat, which involved officers making undercover purchases of products. Copyright holders would then examine the products and confirm whether or not they were counterfeit.
The websites are now shut down with their domain names in the custody of the federal government. Those websites now feature a banner notifying visitors that the domain name was seized by federal authorities.
Authorities say these seizures bring the total number of Operation In Our Sites domain names seized in the last two years to 839.
In 2010, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center received information from the Motion Picture Association of America that www.ninjavideo.net (Ninja Video), was illegally distributing pirated, high quality copies of motion pictures to millions of visitors that were in theaters or not yet released. The site was seized and search warrants were executed at the homes of the primary suspects. Funds were seized from 15 financial accounts. Authorities say the Ninja Video investigation lead to the conviction of five of the six co-conspirators. Another co-conspirator remains a fugitive.