EL CAJON (CNS) - A San Diego County business was among scores of Internet-based retailers targeted Monday in an international "Cyber Monday" crackdown on websites that hawk counterfeit merchandise online to unwitting consumers, federal authorities announced.
The operators of Staxxs on Deck allegedly sold phony Nike shoes at their El Cajon storefront while also running a website -- 23isking.com -- offering the knockoff footwear, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials reported.
The shoes included imitations of such styles as the Nike Air Jordan, Air Force One and SB Dunk. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the company's online domain received about $1.5 million from shoppers who unknowingly bought bogus Nike footwear from the website over a two-year period.
The enforcement operation, conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, the European Police Office and other foreign law enforcement personnel, resulted in the seizure of 132 website domain names.
In Ventura, federal agents served seizure warrants for two Internet domain names linked to the website autoforms8m.com. The site, which claims to offer easy and affordable access to legal forms online, is suspected of selling counterfeit Adobe software.
The seizures were part of Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic, coordinated by the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington, D.C.
During the operation, agents made undercover purchases of various products, including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, as well as clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products.
If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal judges.
It was the third time the IPR center has targeted online counterfeit sales in conjunction with Cyber Monday. Recognizing the global nature of Internet crime, the IPR Center partnered this year with Europol, which, through its member countries, executed coordinated seizures of foreign-based top-level domains, such as .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk. The effort, called Project Transatlantic, resulted in 31 domain name seizures.
"Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world," ICE Director John Morton said. "This is not an American problem -- it is a global one, and it is a fight we must win."
The IPR Center and Europol received leads from various trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. The information was then disseminated to HSI field offices in San Diego, Ventura, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver, El Paso, Newark and San Antonio, and to the investigating Europol member countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom.
The confiscated domain names are in the custody of the involved governments. Visitors typing them into their Web browsers now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and informs them about copyright-infringement crimes.
The domain names targeted during Project Cyber Monday 3 brought the total number seized over the last 2 1/2 years to 1,630, according to ICE.