A European police operation caused the seizure of over 20,000 counterfeit products and the shutting down of over 1,000 illegal shops in social media websites.
The operation labeled Operation Aphrodite, involved the European police and the Italian Guardia di Finanza together with authorities coming from nine EU member states namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.
The preliminary investigation has targeted more than 250 people selling counterfeit goods and pirated content. 100 suspects have already been prosecuted as a result of the operation. However, investigations are still being conducted.
The products seized include fake sportswear, medicine, cosmetics, phones, designer clothes, jewelry, eyewear, watches, and IPTV set-top-boxes.
The shops operating in social media platforms advertised fake products, but the authorities did not specify the sites used in selling the goods. It was reported that transactions do not happen on the social media sites themselves but buyers and sellers use various messaging apps to complete the deal.
A spokesperson of the Europol said that because of the rampant increase in social media platforms, it had affected the development of online markets. They added that the new e-markets utilize social media to carry out their illegal transactions.
The internet, according to them, continues to be a “major facilitator of intellectual property crime.” Because of social media platforms, it became easier to post and advertise offers for goods and content that turn out to be counterfeit and pirated.
They also said that users of social media because this is the primary tool used by criminal networks.