Operation Fake Sweep targeted stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit National Football League gear throughout the country starting on October 1, 2011. ICE was joined in the effort by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Indiana State Police in partnership with the NFL.
Agents have seized 42,692 items of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia and other counterfeit items worth a total of more than $4.8 million, up from $3.72 million last year. The Obama administration has targeted online piracy and counterfeiting as a priority for both ICE and the Department of Justice.
The 16 websites seized for streaming live games were among more than 307 sites seized in total, most for selling counterfeit merchandise. Sites seized include sports95.org, sportswwe.com, and firstrow.tv.
"This enforcement action by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, in coordination with our partners at the IPR Center, sends a strong message to website operators who mistakenly believe it's worth the risk to take copyrighted programming and portray it as their own," ICE Director John Morton said.
"Protecting legitimate business interests are a priority for our agency. We will continue to investigate illegal streaming of programming on the Internet in an effort to preserve legitimate and creative business interests and deter others from engaging in this online criminal activity."