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Europol wipes out 30,000+ piracy sites, three suspects cuffed to walk the legal plank

Aw man, I was still downl...err.. great work everyone!

Europol says its latest piracy takedown netted three arrests and more than 30,000 website takedowns.

The operation was part of an 18-country joint effort involving the European police agency and local cops targeting sites that trafficked in both pirated digital content (streaming video, media files, and cracked software downloads) and sale of counterfeit real-world goods and pharmaceuticals.

In total, Europol says it was able to shut down 30,506 domains. They also arrested three people, seized 26,000 pieces of clothing and perfume, grabbed 363 litres of alcohol (about 10 Reg holiday parties), an unspecified number of hardware devices, and upwards of €150,000 in bank and online payment accounts.

The arrests come as part of the ‘In Our Sites’ (IOS) operation, and ongoing anti-piracy effort that Europol runs with EU member states. This effort also enlisted the help of police in South America, Hong Kong, China, Eastern Europe, and the US.

"In Our Sites’ (IOS), launched in 2014, is the continuation of a recurrent joint global operation that has increased significantly year-on-year," Europol said in announcing the takedown.

Europol said it was making the arrests "with the aim of making the internet a safer place for consumers, by getting even more countries and private sector partners to participate in this operation and providing referrals."

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The timing on the takedown is relevant, particularly as the bust includes thousands of hardware and luxury items. With the holiday shopping season now having formally kicked off, police have been warning consumers against buying counterfeit items and dodgy goods from untrusted online retailers.

Police in the US and Europe have some form in announcing piracy crackdowns on Cyber Monday as a way to remind people to avoid pirated and counterfeit stuff.

"Counterfeiters look to make profits by making fake versions of the hottest products as soon they are available on the market," US Customs and Border Protection said on Monday.

"Each time you buy a counterfeit good, a legitimate company loses revenue." ®

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