Enforcement teams raided premises across the country last week as Operation Jasper, the UK’s biggest crackdown on counterfeiting and piracy enabled through social media, entered its second phase.
The raids saw Trading Standards and police officers seize a range of counterfeit and dangerous goods destined for sale to customers on popular social media platforms. Goods seized in the latest phase of the operation included IPTV devices, clothing, footwear, headphones, music CDs and illicit tobacco.
Social media is now the primary online marketplace for organised criminals trading in counterfeit and pirated goods. In the UK, 72% of internet users now have a social media profile and 81% of those users access social media at least once a day. It has become easier than ever for criminals and rogue traders to target consumers online through social media.
Since its launch in May 2015, Operation Jasper has seen 7,800 Facebook profiles taken down or delisted, 42 warrants executed, 213 warnings issued, 66 cease and desist letters sent and currently involves 63 separate on-going investigations.
Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville Rolfe DBE CMG, said: “The Government is committed to tackling counterfeiting and it’s great to see this successful operation. Industry, government and enforcement agencies need to continue to work together to tackle counterfeiting and disrupt organised criminal networks who use social media sites to commit IP crime. The fantastic results of this operation show what partnership working can achieve.”
Operation Jasper brings together officers from local authority Trading Standards teams, Police officers, industry bodies and government agencies under the co-ordination of the National Markets Group working closely with the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.
The National Markets Group membership includes the Intellectual Property Office, the Police, BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT), TM Eye, Department for Work and Pensions, the Alliance for Intellectual Property, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Scambusters and many local authority Trading Standards teams.