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Feds shut down 82 websites selling Chinese-made counterfeit goods

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Department Producer
Attorney General Eric Holder announces a crackdown on websites selling Chinese-made counterfeit goods.
Attorney General Eric Holder announces a crackdown on websites selling Chinese-made counterfeit goods.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fashions, handbags, watches, sunglasses, shoes and scarves are among the knock-off items
  • No arrests are made in connection with the takedown of the websites
  • Customs official: "Some of them will be back, but it will take a long time"

Washington (CNN) -- Federal agents highlighted Cyber Monday, a peak day for online shopping, by seizing 82 websites selling Chinese-made counterfeit products in a crackdown designed to severely sting criminals in the pocketbook.

The knock-off goods carrying leading U.S. and other Western brands sold for a mere fraction of the cost of authentic fashions, handbags, watches, sunglasses, shoes, scarves and other consumer goods.

"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 Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder and other top federal authorities said most of the commercial websites engaged in the illegal sales were operated by Chinese firms, and the counterfeit goods were virtually all made in China.

No arrests were associated with the takedown of the websites.

"These are all based in China, and it's very difficult," said John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "We have had cooperation from the Chinese government on some specific operations, although not this one. Let's just say we have a long way to go."

The U.S. officials pointed to the costs not only to the companies ripped off, but also to the larger economy, including lost jobs and lost tax revenue.

Morton told reporters at a Justice Department news conference he has no illusions the game is over for these fraudulent operations.

"Some of them will be back, but it will take a long time, and we got them at the height of the online shopping season," he said.

Among individual firms that had been particularly victimized were Timberland, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Coach and Rolex, officials said.

Morton said a related raid was carried out at a residence in the United Kingdom on Monday morning, in connection with a website shut down in June that had recently reopened under a new name.

The 82 site names were associated with dot-com addresses operating in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington state and the District of Columbia.

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