The Department of Homeland Security seized 132 websites on Cyber Monday as part of “Operation in our Sites,” an effort to crack down on websites who sell counterfeit items. Twelve of those sites are based in the San Antonio area.
“It's a white collar crime, but it's a crime that is serious and we're going to go after them,” said Nina Pruneda, spokeswoman for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
“It's the intellectual property rights and the trademark infringements of the websites. It's not fair of those who are the authentic owners of the merchandise to be competing with someone who is counterfeiting their items.”
Pruneda said agents are able to determine if the websites are illegal, by purchasing the fake merchandise, and inspecting it upon receipt. In some cases, no merchandise is received at all.
Pruneda said it can be hard for consumers to spot an illegal website, but things to look out for include websites who ask for personal information like social security numbers or the names of your siblings, websites with generic photos, and if the item being purchased is drastically marked down from other, legitimate sites.
“Like the saying goes, if it's too good to be true, it probably is,” Pruneda said. “Operation in our Sites” is currently in phase 3, but will continue indefinitely.