LONDON — The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit has revealed that it has taken down 28,000 web sites selling counterfeit goods to U.K. consumers over the last three years, 4,000 of which were set up using stolen identities.
The announcement comes as the police launch an awareness campaign called “There’s more at stake when it’s fake.” The campaign aims to warn the public of the dangers of using such illicit web sites, and primarily of the danger of identity fraud.
According to the police, this is a growing issue, with fraudsters stealing personal information and using it to set up new illicit web sites when a customer shares their credit card or address details to make a purchase from an existing web site that sells counterfeits.
Up to 86 percent of identity frauds are taking place online and Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting center, hosted by the City of London Police, has received over 15,000 reports linked to identity crime in the last year.
“The sale of fake goods online is a challenging area. Consumers are often unaware that they are purchasing fake products and that the web sites they are using might not be secure. It’s vital that we help them understand the risks so they can stay safe,” said Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the intellectual property office.
The new campaign mirrors ongoing efforts by the U.K. government to combat counterfeiters in cyberspace.
Last year, the Court of Appeals upheld a 2014 decision forcing the country’s Internet service providers to block web sites selling counterfeit goods.
Several big providers, including BT, EE and Virgin Media, lost their appeal earlier this summer to overturn the High Court’s 2014 ruling.
The case was originally brought to court by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA and resulted in all major Internet providers blocking rogue web sites which sold fake Cartier, Montblanc and IWC Schaffhausen products.
Other brands, including the likes of Belstaff, Karen Millen and the Cambridge Satchel Company, are also known to work with companies such as MarkMonitor, which specializes in online brand protection via services such as domain management, to protect their online platforms and combat sites selling counterfeit versions of their products.