Police deleting thousands of Facebook posts in 'Operation Jasper' piracy crackdown

4,300 Facebook posts and 20 profiles have been removed since the operation began

The police are deleting thousands of Facebook listing in an attempt to stop people using the site to sell counterfeit and pirated goods.

It is the biggest effort of its kind to stop piracy on social media in the UK, according to National Trading Standards.

Enforcement officers had raided 12 locations over the last few weeks and were still involved in 22 ongoing investigations targeting criminals who exploited social media channels to sell dangerous and counterfeit goods and commit copyright theft.

Officers had taken down 4,300 Facebook listings and 20 profiles, issued more than 200 warning letters and delivered 24 cease and desist letters to the homes of suspected Facebook sellers.

Among the dangerous or toxic goods seized were Android TV boxes with unsafe mains chargers and several hundred counterfeit Cinderella dolls containing high levels of toxic phthalates.

Two residential properties in Worcester contained "a host" of counterfeit packaged computers, tablets, mobile phones, T-shirts, tracksuits and trainers, Trading Standards said.

Business minister Nick Boles said: "Counterfeiting and piracy of trademarked and copyrighted materials harms legitimate businesses, threatens jobs and poses a real danger to consumers.

"That's why we are taking strong action to stop these criminals through the Government's funding of the National Trading Standards e-Crime Team.

"These criminals rarely act alone and are often linked to serious organised crime groups. We want consumers to be aware of the wider consequences of buying fake products online as well as the risks they pose to their safety."

National Trading Standards chairman Lord Toby Harris said: "Operation Jasper has struck an important psychological blow against criminals who believe they can operate with impunity on social media platforms without getting caught.

 

"It shows we can track them down, enter their homes, seize their goods and computers and arrest and prosecute them, even if they are operating anonymously online.

"Criminals who operate on social media have become brazen because they think operating from their living rooms using laptops - without having to be physically present on market stalls - means they are less likely to get caught.

"I am extremely pleased that this operation has been able to prove that misconception wrong, but I would also like to urge consumers to remain vigilant and report any suspected online rogue traders to Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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