POSTED: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 3:09pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 11:12am
EL PASO- Millions of shopped online for bargains on Cyber Monday. Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in El Paso shutdown 150 websites suspected of running shopping scams.
ICE says their investigation lasted for months. During that time, agents bought counterfeit items and had them shipped here to El Paso.
Items included fake sports jerseys, golf equipment, and ladies handbags. Investigators kept the merchandise as evidence, then got a judge's permission to take over 150 websites.
On Cyber Monday, shoppers going to those sites saw a message telling them that federal agents had taken the website down.
ICE says profits from counterfeit merchandise often go toward other illegal activity.
"Intellectual property rights should really concern all of us. First of all, there are health and safety issues. For example, if people out there are selling counterfeit batteries that we buy for our children's toys,” said ICE spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa.
In the past year and a half, ICE agents have crashed 350 websites suspected of pushing counterfeit goods.
When agents seize counterfeit items, they check with trademark owners, such as the NFL, to make sure the items are fake before they take legal action against a seller.