Police have suspended 2,000 .co.uk domains that were being used to rip off consumers with counterfeit goods.
The Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) said the sites had been used to pass of a number of popular brands such as Ugg, Nike, GHD, and Tiffany as the genuine article under the apparently legitimate cover of a .co.uk domain address.
“The sites suspended are registered in bulk by crime groups with the sole intention of duping consumers into parting with their money for, at best, poor quality counterfeit goods, at worst, nothing at all,” said detective inspector Paul Hoare of the PCeU.
“In the run up to Christmas the PCeU will continue to work with Nominet and other registries to disable as many such sites as possible but I would urge customers to take all precautions to ensure they buy from legitimate sites only.”
The speed at which police can request the suspension of rogue domains has been a controversial issue for some time with UK country registry Nominet currently ploughing through a laborious consultation exercise on how this process might be streamlined.
The latest takedowns give the impression of progress although the PCeU had not specified how quickly the 2,000 criminal domains took to de-register. Only weeks ago, it appeared that Nominet had agreed to a fast-track the take-down process that would allow rogue domains to be taken down without police needing a court order but representations from stakeholders could stymie that.
Nominet’s summary page on the matter lists a lengthening list of reports, draft recommendations and discussion papers. With fraud from easily-registered .co.uk domains piling up as fast as ever it appears that the rights of domain holders are once again being privileged over ordinary consumers, critics say.
The issue of dodgy .co.uk domains is far from new, with serious fraud incidents stretching back years. Until as recently as two years ago such criminality went unhindered by a UK police service with no resources or clear mandate for intervention.