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Feds kick off Cyber Monday counterfeit crackdown

The Department of Homeland Security seizes 132 domain names allegedly linked to the sale of counterfeit clothes, jewelry, and electronics -- and also goes after their PayPal accounts.

Banner that appears after the Department of Homeland Security seizes a site for alleged copyright infringement.

In honor of Cyber Monday, the feds cracked down on Web sites allegedly selling counterfeit goods. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it joined forces with international law enforcement authorities to nab 132 domain names that were supposedly hawking bogus sports jerseys, DVD sets, jewelry, and clothing.

"Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world," Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton said in a statement. "This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win."

The takedown was carried out under two operations dubbed "Project Cyber Monday 3" and "Project Transatlantic." These types of domain sweeps during the holiday season have become something of a ritual for the government. Last year, the feds took down more than 130 sites during a similar operation and in 2010 they netted 70 domains.

This year's seizures included foreign-based domains that ended in .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro, and .uk. The operation was also coordinated with Department of Homeland Security offices in Maryland, New York, Colorado, Texas, New Jersey, and California. The targeted sites were allegedly selling luxury items that the feds bought in undercover purchases. Once the copyright holders confirmed the goods were counterfeit, federal judges issued seizure orders of the domain names.

Not only did the feds go after domain names but they also identified PayPal accounts that could have been associated with the Web sites. If more than $175,000 in proceeds was funneled through an account, it was targeted for seizure.

"PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally," vice president and deputy general counsel of Government Relations for eBay Tod Cohen said in a statement, "and we hope that this is fair warning to criminals that the Internet is not a safe place to try and sell fake goods."

These Cyber Monday crackdowns are part of a bigger initiative by the government called "Operation In Our Sites." In February, the feds boasted a major takedown of 307 Web sites that either allegedly live-streamed sports or sold fake NFL paraphernalia. According to the Department of Homeland Security, roughly 1,630 domain names have been seized since the umbrella operation launched in 2010.