HOUSTON, TX (BRAIN) — Federal officials have seized 10 web domains that were allegedly selling counterfeit products including Specialized bikes, clothing and shoes. Officials said other bike vendors including SRAM, Cervelo and Pinarello assisted in their investigation. Officials also seized more than $90,000 from PayPal accounts associated with the sites.
"Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement," the Houston-based Homeland Security Investigations said in a statement released Friday.
The site domains seized: cyclingyong.com; samewood.com, Ecyclingonline.com, Cycleoutfit.com, Ecyclingjerseys.com, Bike-jersey.com, Cycling-outfit.com, Teamscycling.com, Cycling-jersey.net and Yongcycling.com.
No arrests are expected as a result of the investigation because the site operators are based overseas. The officials were able to seize the domains because ICANN, the international web domain registrar, is based in the U.S. Likewise, PayPal, owned by eBay, is a U.S. company, allowing officials to seize those accounts.
A Specialized employee said the company has tested counterfeit frames in its lab and found the frames did not meet its fatigue and impact standards. Specialized released a photo of a broken counterfeit Tarmac road frame to the media today. The broken frame in the photo was not purchased from the sites shut down as a result of the Houston investigation; however, Specialized officials believe it was made in the same factory as the alleged countefeit bikes being sold by the sites that were shut down. HIS released a photo (below) of counterfeit clothing purchased from some of the shut-down sites.
Andrew Love, head of brand security at Specialized, said that aluminum headtube cups de-bonded in the tested counterfeit frames. “The counterfeiters just want to make a sale; they have zero interest in the customer. Our product integrity and rider safety are very personal for us,” Love said in the HIS statement.
Last year federal officials arrested four Denver, Colorado, residents and charged them with selling counterfeit cycling gear, including allegedly fake Specialized and Mavic products. According to Love, two of the men arrested were deported to Poland after pleading guilty to multiple felony charges. The other two are still fighting the charges.