Department of Homeland Security Launches Fake Counterfeiting Web SiteS

Notice something weird about DesignsFauxReal.com? This site selling counterfeit luxury goods is 100% fake. It was designed by the ad agency KraftWorks for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit.

It's impossible to buy anything on the site — but the product descriptions are pretty amusing. A Lacoste polo shirt is described as "LOOK! Low quality, counterfeit product. On closer inspection, alligator may resemble a tadpole." Next to the "Buy Now" button is a friendly reminder in bright red letters: We're anxious to collect all of your credit card information!! The site warns of credit card fraud and identity theft, which can be a risk of transacting with sites that sell counterfeit luxury goods, and warns that many counterfeiting rings sell goods produced with child and slave labor and are associated with organized crime and sometimes even terrorist groups. The site "is completely fake and made to both scare and amuse people," says Neil Kraft of KraftWorks.

Though counterfeit goods are still regularly seized at U.S. ports and at the point of sale — it was reported just today that $14.1 million worth of fake Hermès products were seized by authorities in Los Angeles this week — the battle against fakes has largely moved online. The Web sites that offer fake products are mostly run from China, making it much more difficult for U.S. authorities to combat the trade in counterfeit goods. When a company whose intellectual property has been infringed wins a lawsuit against such retailers, the judge typically orders the seizure of the domain names involved — sometimes hundreds of domains per case. Kraft says the idea is for those seized domains to redirect to DesignsFauxReal.com. The company also took a leaf out of the counterfeiters' book and bought some Google ad keywords: "our site is supposed to show up on Google if you type ‘fake [brand name] handbags,'" says Kraft. "Notice the fake pop-up if you try to leave the site."

DesignsFauxReal.com Raises Awareness About Online Fakes [WWD]