WASHINGTON — The U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, in a joint operation, seized 82 Web site domains for selling fake luxury goods, the agencies said Monday.
The sites sold merchandise that included counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Coach handbags and fake Rolex watches at a fraction of the price of the real articles. Undercover agents paid an average of 15 percent of the suggested manufacturer’s price on goods purchased during the investigation, said John Morton, director of Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
The sites, bearing names like “RealTimberland.com” and “LouisVuittonOutlet,” sold a wide range of fake trademarks including Burberry, Uggs, Nike, Oakley and Tag Heuer.
The seized domain sites were registered in the U.S., but most operated from bases in China, Morton said. They all claimed to be selling real products.
“These Internet sites were scams pure and simple, advertising the genuine, selling the fraudulent,” Morton said.
ICE had no official estimates of the volume of business that was trafficked through the sites prior to the seizures, but it was clear they were doing a “thriving business,” he said.
No arrests were made during the enforcement effort, but anyone attempting to access one of the seized Web sites using its domain name will now be redirected to a banner notifying them the site was seized by federal authorities, said Attorney General Eric Holder.
“With today’s seizures, we are disrupting the sale of thousands of counterfeit items,” Holder said. “As the holiday shopping season gets under way, we are also reminding consumers to exercise caution when looking for deals and discounts online. To put it simply: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading co-sponsor of a bill that would crack down on counterfeit merchandise sold online by “rogue Web sites,” praised the administration’s seizure of the domain names, saying it is similar to legislation his committee passed this month.
The bill, which will likely not advance this year, would give the Justice Department an expedited process to clamp down on Web sites dedicated to selling infringing goods and services and counterfeits, give authority to Justice officials to file civil action against domain names repeatedly selling counterfeits or providing online piracy and go after foreign site operators.
“We can no longer sit on the sidelines while American intellectual property is stolen and sold online using our own infrastructure,” Leahy said.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye