The Department of Justice has seized more than $1.5 million in proceeds from the sale of Chinese counterfeit sports apparel and jerseys as the result of an investigation into counterfeit goods on commercial websites. The probe also resulted in the seizure of three domain names used in the sale of Chinese counterfeit sports gear, with funds seized from interbank accounts and six money-service business accounts.
Why the Obama Administration in general, and the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not taken stronger actions against ongoing corrupt Chinese business practices is an unanswered issue here. Why Major League Baseball and the National Football League, among other sports organizations that live off of law-abiding U.S. citizens, remain silent over the widespread counterfeiting of their apparel is a disgrace and mocks their hard-working U.S. fans. Will the multimillionaire players living off fans ever wake up and demand action or are they too rich to care?
The Justice Department seizures are the latest result of what is dubbed ‘Operation In Our Sites,’ a law enforcement initiative targeting online commercial intellectual property crime conducted by Homeland Security Investigations. Operation In Our Sites looked at online retailers of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses and DVD boxed sets. To date, 761 domain names of websites used in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works have been seized. No one has gone to jail however, and no warrants have apparently been issued under what looks to be a public relations rather than law enforcement action.
According to court documents, investigation by federal law enforcement agents revealed that domain names, which had been seized in a November 2010 In Our Sites operation continued to sell counterfeit goods using new domain names. In particular, the individuals, based in China, sold counterfeit professional and collegiate sports apparel, primarily counterfeit sports jerseys.
According to the evidence, law enforcement agents made numerous undercover purchases from the websites associated with the new domain names. After the goods were confirmed to be counterfeit, seizure warrants for three domain names that were used to sell the infringing goods were obtained from a U.S. Judge in the District of Columbia. The Chinese criminals were not punished, and are apparently a source of no concern under U.S. diplomatic policy, which is unaware of or more likely, oblivious to the unemployment rate in the U.S.
The Chinese individuals conducted sales and processed payments for the counterfeit goods using money service business accounts, and then wired their proceeds to bank accounts held at a Chinese bank, the court documents state. No actions have been taken against the banks involved.
Under warrants issued by the U.S. District Judge, law enforcement agents seized $1,455,438.72 in proceeds that had been transferred from the money service business accounts to various bank accounts in China. The funds were seized from correspondent, or interbank, accounts held by the Chinese bank in the United States. Under additional seizure warrants issued by a U.S. Magistrate Judge, law enforcement agents also seized $94,730.12 in funds remaining in six money service business accounts used by the subjects.