NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While consumers were busy shopping for deals online yesterday, the government found a slightly different way to celebrate Cyber Monday.
The U.S. Department of Justice seized the domain names of 82 websites that sell counterfeit goods, an event the government dubbed a Cyber Monday Crackdown.
"By seizing these domain names, we have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items, while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release.
The domains included websites like dvdscollection.com, louisvuittonoutletstores4u.com and realtimberland.com, which sold fake versions of everything from Coach bags to Nike shoes.
According to the Department of Justice, federal agents tested these websites by making purchases undercover. In many cases, the agents found that counterfeit goods were shipped directly to the U.S. from countries overseas.
By some estimates, counterfeit goods cost U.S. businesses as much as $200 billion a year. In recent months, the government has targeted these websites more aggressively. Law enforcement officials seized nine web domains that offered pirated copies of movies in June.
Unfortunately, the government’s efforts may be a bit of a losing battle. Since these are websites and not brick-and-mortar shops selling counterfeit goods, some of the sellers that the government cracked down on have already created new web addresses and resumed doing business there. But if nothing else, at least the government now owns dozens of scammy web domains which means consumers will never be tricked by sites like dvdscollection.com again.
When Web users do visit a site that has been seized by the government, the only thing they will see on the page is a message from three government agencies, including the Department of Justice, saying the domain has been seized with a warrant.