2020 ICHIP Activities

The U.S. Transnational and High-Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network (GLEN) program is a global law enforcement capacity-building network of International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) prosecutors, computer forensic analysts (Global Cyber Forensics Advisors or GCFAs), and federal law enforcement agents focused on delivering training and technical assistance to foreign law enforcement partners to combat intellectual property and cybercrime activity, as well as to assist in the collection and use of electronic evidence to combat all types of crime, including transnational organized crime (TOC). Illustrative examples of such capacity-building programs for 2020 include:

  • An ICHIP participated in the 2020-21 virtual Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) workshop “Adapting IP Laws to Promote Innovation and Creativity in New Technologies.”  The ICHIP sat on a panel entitled “Challenges and Strategies for Enforcement in an Online and Transnational Environment.”  TCTP is a joint initiative of the U.S. government and the government of Singapore to provide training for the other member states of the Association of Southeast Nations.  The IP event is just one of a year-long series of workshops – the current version, originally scheduled for calendar year 2020, was postponed and ultimately rebranded as a series of webinars beginning in fall 2020 and running into 2021.  The principal U.S. organizer for this year’s IP workshop is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The ICHIP was the U.S. coordinator for the 2019 TCTP IP workshop. The ICHIP was on a second panel entitled “Challenges for the Legal System in Cases Involving New Technologies.”
     
  • An ICHIP is preparing a database of IP rights holder contacts for Asian law enforcement officials.  The U.S. National IPR Coordination Center maintains a similar resource for U.S. law enforcement officials.  Many potential IP investigations and prosecutions in Asian countries wither because law enforcement is unable to contact IP rights holders following seizures or other preliminary enforcement actions – this is especially prevalent in the less developed ASEAN and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries.
     
  • On December 22, an ICHIP presented virtually at a one-day workshop hosted by the State Department’s INL Bureau and ICE-HSI in Hanoi on online investigations for 30 prosecutors from Vietnam’s Supreme People’s Procuracy (SPP). The workshop was conducted in a hybrid fashion with participants gathering in person in a large hotel conference room to allow social distancing and speakers to present virtually and in person. U.S. Embassy Hanoi Deputy Chief of Mission Christophe Klein provided opening remarks. ICHIP O’Malley’s presentation focused on methods available to gather evidence from online third-party providers.
     
  • On December 10, an ICHIP participated in the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace’s (POLCYB) Global Cybercrime Executive Management Virtual Roundtable Fall Series for the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.  POLYCYB is an international NGO based in Canada which works to enhance international partnerships among public and private professionals to prevent and combat crimes in cyberspace.  This event brought together over 40 cybercrime executive managers from various international organizations and law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), the National White Collar Crime Center, the Los Angeles County, California District Attorney’s Office, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Programme Office (C-PROC).  The ICHIP participated in a panel titled “Impact of the Pandemic and Activism Upon Global Cybercrime Threats: Addressing Resource Challenges Under the ‘New Normal.’” During the panel, the ICHIP provided the ICHIP perspective and strategies to address resource challenges under the current conditions.  Specifically, the ICHIP discussed challenges created by interacting with counterparts through virtual platforms but also the benefit of being able to organize events more quickly to respond to the needs of counterparts.  
     
  • On December 9, an ICHIP spoke at a virtual program organized by the Mexican Intellectual Property Institute (IMPI) about trending issues in copyright enforcement online content to approximately 100 participants from the Mexican legal and regulatory community.  He shared examples of transnational operations between foreign law enforcement and U.S. rights-holders that target leading websites and app-based services facilitating illicit streaming and downloading of films, shows, and other content.  The ICHIP stressed the importance of rights-holder support for law enforcement investigations and summarized a recent takedown in Brazil to illustrate effective private-public collaboration and how foreign law enforcement partners can support each other by serving legal process on registrars or other service providers to extend their jurisdictional reach. The ICHIP further emphasized that the growth of illicit streaming has enabled some digital piracy services to profit merely by providing links to other sites where the user will find desired content. Since the operators of these sites may not actually be facilitating reproduction of the content, authorities should ensure their legislation allows them to act against website operators that are enabling unauthorized public presentations or transmissions of copyrighted content as well.
     
  • On December 8, two ICHIPs led the weekly Anglophone Pharma Crime Working Group webinar series, “Fighting Fraud & Fake Meds in the Time of COVID-19.”  A Ugandan working group member (WGM) made the presentation; she noted that Ugandan laws prohibit the sale of adulterated drugs, but the country had challenges with law enforcement.  Common illegal drug seizures in Uganda had included fake emergency contraceptive pills and malaria treatments, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have been seeing counterfeit medical supplies such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers.  Challenges in Uganda included inadequate regulation of pharmacies, the inability to enforce counterfeit laws, and the lack of effective inspections at border points. Uganda has begun to educate the public about the dangers of counterfeit and illegal drugs through seminars and social media and has created more opportunities for people to report stolen or counterfeit drugs. This was the last working group webinar for 2020. 
     
  • On December 7, two ICHIPs hosted a webinar on the dark web and the use of cryptocurrency for 24 prosecutors from eleven different offices across Indonesia.  The Indonesia RLA began the webinar with an overview of money laundering, emphasizing the recent trend of laundering money on the dark web.  Following the RLA’s presentation, the ICHIPs presented on the dark web, explaining its origins, its innerworkings, and how it operates as an illegal marketplace.  Using recent federal prosecutions, the two ICHIPs highlighted how the dark web is exploited for criminal purposes, including for illegal drug trafficking and money laundering.  The ICHIPs noted the challenges of investigating dark web cases but provided practical investigative tips to help overcome those complexities.  The ICHIPs then discussed how cryptocurrency is transferred between persons, described the underlying blockchain technology, and gave examples of how it is exploited for criminal purposes. The ICHIPs also provided insights into investigative techniques employed when dealing with cryptocurrency. 
     
  • On December 7, an ICHIP-mentored and trained interagency group of U.S. brand protection officials, federal customs officers, and municipal officials seized a significant quantity of counterfeit goods, primarily sporting apparel, from Shopping Bourbon in Sao Paulo. Although an estimate of the total product seized is pending, authorities estimate the total value of the seized goods will be approximately $58 million. Customs had been investigating the mall for at least a year and will jointly seek the indefinite closure of the mall pursuant to court order with municipal officials.   
     
  • On December 4, an ICHIP participated in an International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition webinar entitled “Dialogue with Amazon.”  The featured speakers were from Amazon’s new HQ2 counterfeit crime unit, headed by the ICHIP’s former DOJ-CCIPS colleagues.  The ICHIP has assisted Amazon’s representative with introductions to USG contacts focusing on IP criminal enforcement in China.
     
  • On December 1, two ICHIPs co-led a discussion with 20 Anglophone Pharmacrime Working Group members (WGM) about tactics for fighting pharmaceutical crimes.  The webinar began with a country presentation from the WGM from Zambia and focused on ways to fight drug diversions, including diversions of pharmaceuticals donated by U.S. NGOs, as observed by WGMs from both Zambia and South Africa.  The meeting then evolved to a group discussion of how to address issues such as prevention, public awareness, and local police who tip off targets.  Finally, the Zambian representative highlighted that he now had a case with Novartis and thus a previous week’s webinar, featuring representatives from Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies, was particularly useful. 
     
  • On November 29, São Paulo mayor Bruno Covas triumphed in a runoff to secure a full term of his own after serving out the remainder of current Governor João Doria’s term. Covas touted the work of an interagency group including members of his administration, state police authorities, federal customs officers, and U.S. rights-holders to combat notorious markets distributing counterfeit goods throughout the country. The ICHIP and Consulate São Paulo have supported this group since its inception. As seen in the clip below from an interview taped two days before the runoff (minutes 12-14), Covas touted the work of this group during the campaign, noting that the group had seized 4,000 tons of counterfeit goods in the last few years as the first step in a process that now culminated in the closure of the target premises. He added that São Paulo is “breaking records” for seizures of counterfeit goods, that no other city in the world has seized as many, and that they’ve been recognized internationally for their work. He said he wanted to expand further on this work in a new term.   
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRFGEH265XU&feature=youtu.be
     
  • On November 24, two ICHIPs led the weekly Anglophone Pharma Crime Working Group in its seventeenth webinar in their series, “Fighting Fraud & Fake Meds in the Time of COVID-19.”  This webinar included presentations by Celia Fant, of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, along with representatives from GSK, Pfizer, and Novartis discussing current and potential relationships between law enforcement and the pharmaceutical industry in combatting pharma criminal activity.  The representative from GSK presented a case study of the seizure of counterfeit Panadol Extra tablets in Nigeria. The representatives from Pfizer and Novartis both spoke about investigations involving unauthorized diversions which, in the case of Novartis, led to a determination about a specific drug, Atriance, trafficked from Europe into India. In closing, the speakers reiterated that private sector pharmaceutical companies are available to help law enforcement if they encounter suspected counterfeit drugs in an investigation. Representatives from GSK and Novartis spoke briefly about the option to send suspected counterfeit drugs to their laboratories for analysis.
     
  • On November 18, ICHIPs partnered with USPTO and the Association of Southeast Nations Secretariat (ASEC) to present the final webinar in their Indo-Pacific IPR enforcement series: “Case Studies on Agricultural Products, Automotive Parts, and Medical Devices.”  Ninety prosecutors, customs officers, administrative enforcement officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Myanmar, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam registered for the webinar.  USPTO Senior Counsel for Enforcement moderated the webinar.  Syngenta Head of Corporate Security, Asia and the Pacific, and Security Manager in India, described several enforcement actions taken by the seeds and pesticides company.  Bayer Anti-Counterfeiting Lead for Southeast Asia and Pakistan discussed the challenges her company has faced tracking down counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  Finally, Johnson & Johnson Director, Global Brand Protection Asia recounted several recent investigations undertaken in China by the Fast Moving Consumer Goods giant.
     
  • On November 16 and 17, an ICHIP served as a member of an interactive panel at the 9th Regional IP Crime Virtual Conference for the Middle East and North Africa, which took place on a virtual platform.  The theme of the conference was “Learning from the Pandemic – IP Rights Enforcement and Protection Best Practices.”  This program was co-hosted by INTERPOL, the Dubai Police and Emirates Intellectual Property Association.  The ICHIP’s panel topic was “Looking to the Future of IP – How can Technology Help?”  Executive Director, Future Platforms at Dubai Future Foundation served as the panel chair.  Other panel members were Legal Counselor, Building Respect for IP Division, World Intellectual Property Organization, and Head of IIPCIC, Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme, INTERPOL.  Among other things, the ICHIP described work in Africa towards building capacity to collect and analyze digital evidence on cell phones. 
     
  • On November 10, ICHIPs led a discussion on business email compromises (BEC) for a virtual Public/Private Roundtable convened by OPDAT Indonesia RLA. Over 70 participants from private financial institutions, Indonesia’s financial intelligence unit (PPATK), Indonesia’s central bank (Bank of Indonesia), and Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK), attended and learned about common schemes to target and deceive victims and how to successfully investigate BEC cases.
     
  • [Fall 2020 Operation 404 press statement hyperlink:] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-law-enforcement-assists-brazilian-law-enforcement-takedown-numerous-digital-piracy-sites
     
  • On October 28, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat to present the fourth webinar in their Indo-Pacific IPR enforcement series: “Organized Crime, IP Theft, and Financial Crime: Prosecuting, Use of Forensics Experts and Expert Testimony, and Sentencing.”  Eighty-eight prosecutors, customs officers, administrative enforcement officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Micronesia, Myanmar, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Philippines, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam attended the webinar.  An ICHIP moderated the webinar.  Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Senior Special Agent presented on best practices for investigating IP infringement using a case study of a counterfeit pharmaceutical investigation that HSI was able to pursue all the way to a Shanghai prison, largely by following the money.  Laos-based AML/CFT Advisor for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), also focused on the importance of conducting financial investigations in tandem with the substantive investigations of economic crimes such as IPR theft.  U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang (NDIL) took the participants through the key factors that judges consider in sentencing those convicted of IPR crimes.  Tapping into the webinar’s running follow-the-money theme, he explained that the main determinant at sentencing for IPR crimes is usually the value of the infringing goods. 
     
  • On October 28, an ICHIP shared tips for reporting online COVID-19 scams to U.S. service providers, particularly domain registrars, to approximately 144 law enforcement officials and brand protection representatives drawn from around Central America at a webinar on IPR enforcement issues and COVID-19 organized by the International Trademark Association (INTA). Using a recent case, the ICHIP illustrated how investigators can use open source tools to identify a website’s registrar and how to frame a complaint about a suspect site around the platform’s terms of service. The ICHIP presented along with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Panama Attaché and a cybercrime and IP prosecutor whom the ICHIP is currently mentoring at the Panamanian Public Ministry. The prosecutor promised further collaboration in the weeks and months ahead.          
     
  • On October 20, an ICHIP presented at a webinar organized by the USPTO China team on “How the U.S. Government Can Help Companies Protect and Enforce their IP in China,” attended by over 400 U.S. rights holders’ representatives.  The ICHIP joined representatives from the USPTO IP Attaché office in Guangzhou, China, the International Trade Administration IP office, the U.S. Department of State IP enforcement office, the U.S. Export Assistance Centers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service in Beijing.  The ICHIP described the close partnership that the ICHIPs maintain with rights holders to support the ICHIPs’ capacity-building efforts by helping foreign law enforcement partners with the identification of infringing content and goods and also to assist the rights holders in making connections with foreign law enforcement. 
     
  • On October 16, Brazilian telecommunications giants, such as Vivo, Oi, and TIM (covering 37 percent of Brazilian broadband and mobile subscriptions) began blocking sites that facilitate digital piracy pursuant to a court order won by an ICHIP-mentored and trained São Paulo state cyber organized crime prosecutor.  These providers initially blocked 15 stream ripping sites referred to the state public ministry by U.S. rights-holders.  They informed the ICHIP that those sites represent more than 500 million visits (twice the audiences of Spotify and Deezer during the same time period) and caused estimated damages of over $USD 16.1 million dollars.  Moreover, their investigations indicated that some of these sites operated from Russia. The rights-holders hailed the decision as a “landmark” and “first of its kind” and thanked the ICHIP for supporting and training the local counterparts that secured this decision.   
     
  • On October 7, ICHIPs partnered with USPTO and the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat (ASEC) to present the first webinar in their Indo-Pacific IPR enforcement series: “Overview of Laws Against IP Infringement and Challenges for Consumers and Rights Holders in the Global and Online Environment.”  Seventy-eight prosecutors, customs officers, administrative enforcement officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Myanmar, Niue, the Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam registered for the webinar.  One of the ICHIPs started the webinar with an overview of the new seven-part webinar series to be conducted by DOJ, USPTO and the ASEAN Secretariat. He then delivered a presentation covering the many categories of criminal statutes that prosecutors can use for IPR crimes: substantive; effects-related (such as health and safety regulations); and operations-related (such as smuggling, money laundering and asset forfeiture).  Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Special Agent followed with a presentation focused on the intersection between regulators and criminal investigators. Finally, a Thai attorney, who sits on the Anti-Counterfeiting Committee of the International Trademark Association (INTA), delivered a presentation focused on the relationship between civil and criminal IPR enforcement.
     
  • On October 5, ICHIP-mentored municipal and customs officials in São Paulo launched Operation Toy Assassin, seizing approximately 40 tons of counterfeit goods, primarily toys, from a popular shopping mall in the center of the city. The raid was timed to coincide with a Brazilian children’s holiday. The toys infringed on properties belonging to U.S. rights-holders such as Disney and Warner Media. Authorities estimate the value of the seized merchandise was $1.7 million. Customs officials highlighted that the sale of counterfeit toys not only poses a health and safety to risk to children but also undermines law-abiding Brazilian retailers and manufacturers. 
     
  • On September 28, an ICHIP partnered with the FBI Legal Attaché stationed at U.S. Embassy Bucharest, as well as agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Romania’s National Agency for the Management of Seized Assets (ANABI) to host a webinar entitled: COVID-19 Crimes, Financial Frauds, and Following the Money to Investigate and Prosecute Transnational Organized Crime.  The webinar provided the audience of more than 300 judges, government officials, prosecutors, and police officials from Romania, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia with an update on COVID-19 related intellectual property and cybercrime as well as detailed case studies of two HSI operations, Operation Stolen Promise and Operation Outsource, which involved COVID-19 related financial frauds.  Council of Europe officials also observed.  The event was widely reported in the media and on the Embassy’s website. 
     
  • On September 1 and 3, an ICHIP and the Pakistan RLA co-presented webinars to a group of over 50 prosecutors and law enforcement investigators and analysts from the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Narcotics Force, Sindh Counter Terrorism Department, and the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh prosecution departments.  The first webinar (September 1) focused on dark web marketplace investigations, and covered the basic components of dark web markets, such as Tor, cryptocurrency, and Pretty Good Protection (PGP) encryption; they also presented two cases studies involving the successful prosecution of a dark web marketplace administrator and vendor.  The second webinar (September 3) focused on cryptocurrency fundamentals and covered the basic components of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and best practices for investigating and tracing bitcoin transactions. 
     
  • On August 28, ICHIP-trained Romanian prosecutors and investigators indicted a defendant on criminal IP and money laundering charges in a complex Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and online piracy case.  The defendant was responsible for using multiple companies and websites to unlawfully distribute a variety of pirated television programs to customers in 37 countries around the world, including nearly seventeen thousand subscribers in Romania. The defendant was also marketing and selling Chinese-manufactured pirated access control devices that also allowed customers to unlawfully access various subscription services.  Investigators estimate that the defendant made a profit of over $1.2 million dollars before being caught.  Prosecutors and several of the police officers involved in the investigation have participated in multiple ICHIP workshops and webinars. The ICHIP mentored the lead Romanian prosecutor, helping her to consolidate the case and move the investigation forward to indictment. The Romanian investigators also credited ICHIP assistance for the use of a task force to tackle online piracy and to pursue the highest levels of those responsible for the crimes.  Media coverage included:
     
  • On August 13, ICHIPs presented the fifth in their webinar series Chasing COVID Criminals into the Dark: “Investigating Business Email Compromise Schemes.”  Thirty judges, prosecutors, customs officers, regulatory officials and criminal investigators from Fiji, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines attended for the webinar.  The ICHIP, who led the session, delivered a comprehensive presentation on best practices for investigating BEC schemes.  The ICHIP first outlined the evolution of BEC schemes from their origin as a simple “Nigerian Prince” phishing scheme to complex, sophisticated criminal activity that is believed to have caused over $26 billion in losses globally between 2016-2019 and has affected all 50 states and 177 countries.  The ICHIP ended his presentation by focusing on the common investigative approaches used to unraveling BEC crimes. 
     
  • On August 20, ICHIPs partnered with the USPTO Attachés in Mexico, Peru, and Brazil to train approximately 100 prosecutors, customs officials, and trademark examiners from Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay on best practices in the investigation of IP crimes related to COVID-19. One of the ICHIPs presented on best practices for working with U.S. registrars to take down online COVID-19 scams voluntarily. He outlined the use of open source tools to learn the domain registrar and how to formulate effective requests for assistance to U.S. registrars. He also reminded participants of potentially useful tools for international assistance in preserving electronic evidence when it is identified during the course of an investigation, including the G7 24-7 network.     
     
  • August 13, two ICHIPs hosted a webinar for Francophone African countries, the first in the “Fighting Frauds & Fake Meds in the Time of COVID-19" series. The ICHIP IFPH delivered a presentation focused on taking down fraudulent COVID-19 websites.  This webinar included 14 participants from five countries: Senegal, Chad, Niger, Burundi, and Burkina Faso.  They highlighted fake chloroquine and fake sanitizer seizures at their borders and that those trafficking in these counterfeit products share information about them on social network platforms. 
     
  • On August 11, Consulate General São Paulo released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) recorded by the ICHIP in both Portuguese and English on best practices for safe online shopping. On August 17, the Consulate posted the recording to its social media accounts and communication system dedicated to American citizens living in Brazil.  The English version is available at:  https://twitter.com/EmbaixadaEUA/status/1294997630360211458
     
  • On August 5, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat to present the tenth webinar in their COVID-19-related criminal enforcement series, entitled: “Seizure, Preservation and Analysis of Digital Evidence.”  Seventy-five prosecutors, customs officers, administrative enforcement officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Northern Mariana Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tonga registered for the webinar.  Additionally, officials from Australia and from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration observed.  The Global Cyber Forensics Analyst and Director of DOJ CCIPS’s Cybercrime Laboratory was the featured speaker.  He shared his vast expertise regarding seizure, preservation and analysis of digital devices and evidence in a 60-minute overview of best practices for criminal investigators and prosecutors, including partnering closely and productively with digital crime analysts. 
     
  • On August 4, ICHIPs hosted a webinar entitled: Fighting Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals: A Case Study, Part One.  This is the fifth webinar in their Fighting Fraud & Fake Meds in the Time of COVID-19 series for the Anglophone Pharmacrime Working Group.  During this webinar, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration Special Operations Manager / Special Agent and an ICHIP presented on strategies to combat sales of counterfeit pharmaceuticals to attendees from Kenya, the Gambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Liberia, and Namibia, as well as officers from South Africa.
     
  • On July 29, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat to present the ninth webinar in their COVID-19-related criminal enforcement series: “Sentencing in IPR Cases.”  Sixty-nine prosecutors, customs officers, administrative enforcement officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Northern Mariana Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam registered for the webinar.  A U.S. federal district court judge was the featured presented, and he emphasized key sentencing factors that judges often consider in IP cases and walked participants through a mock sentencing hearing. 
     
  • On July 28, ICHIPs hosted their fourth in a series of webinars, entitled: “Fighting Fraud & Fake Meds in the Time of COVID-19” – a webinar for ICHIP Anglophone Pharmacrime Working Group.  To encourage information sharing across borders, the ICHIPs invited the a senior official from Kenya’s Pharma Crime Investigations and Enforcement Unit to share his country’s challenges and successes in stopping fake COVID-19 cures and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  Attendees included working group members from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Namibia. 
     
  • On July 30 and on August 4, Brazilian federal customs officers seized approximately 44 tons of counterfeit goods at the Port of Santos, one of the region’s key seaports. An ICHIP-mentored and trained Brazilian customs official supervises the federal customs office at this port. Customs seized the counterfeit apparel and consumer electronics accessories from forty-foot containers.  The goods bore counterfeit marks of U.S. rights-holders, including Nike and Apple. The containers were loaded in China and stopped while in transit to the Port of Montevideo in Uruguay. Counterfeit goods sold in Paraguay often arrive via Uruguay since Paraguay is landlocked. The sporting apparel, particularly soccer jerseys, was of poor quality and bore suspicious labels that read “Made in Brazil/Produzido no Brasil/Hecho em Brasil.”  Brazilian Customs has seized approximately 782 tons of illicit or counterfeit goods this year, a 21% increase over the same time period last year. The seizure underscores the importance of inspecting in-transit shipments from China for counterfeit goods and other contraband. The ICHIP will work with customs and rights-holders to identify and trace the importers and obtain the consignor information to share with counterparts in Asia.  Following are two press releases from Brazilian Customs detailing the seizures:   HERE and HERE
     
  • On July 24, ICHIPs partnered with the Ghana RLA and the West Africa Legal Advisor, with assistance from the West Africa Regional Training Center, in Accra, Ghana, to conduct the third session in a four-part webinar series for prosecutors, investigators, and financial analysts from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.  This webinar focused on how to disrupt criminal organizations engaged in international business email compromise (BEC) schemes and related money laundering activities.   ICHIPs provided the more than 30 webinar participants with a broad array of effective investigative techniques – both traditional and cyber – for dismantling BEC fraud and money laundering rings.  The attendees actively engaged with the presenters and panelists throughout the webinar. The ICHIPs will continue to build on the series by providing individual mentorship opportunities to the participants.
     
  • On July 23, ICHIPs presented the second in a series of webinars on IPR criminal enforcement for the Malaysia AGC and the Malaysia MDTCA.  Thirty-two prosecutors and twelve investigators participated.  An ICHIP’s presentation focused on best practices for combating online COVID-19 fraud, particularly the trafficking of counterfeit COVID cures.  He led the participants through a survey of the major types of COVID fraud and covered the fundamentals on identifying online criminals, emphasizing the importance of identifying, preserving, and initiating early mutual legal assistance requests for, digital evidence located abroad, especially in the United States.  Finally, he guided the participants through a mock financial investigation of the operators of an online criminal organization.
     
  • On July 22, an ICHIP partnered with INTERPOL, Underwriter Laboratories (UL), and OPDAT RLAs in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Georgia, to host a webinar, entitled “Open Source Intelligence Tools: The Convergence of Investigating Intellectual Property Crime, Organized Crime, Human Trafficking, and Cybercrime.”  The webinar provided an audience of more than 285 prosecutors and police officials from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia and Romania with a comprehensive introduction to open source intelligence (OSINT).  EUROPOL and Council of Europe representatives also attended. U.S. Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman, Romanian Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz, Romanian General Prosecutor Gabriela Scutti, and INTERPOL’s Kirstin Pedersen delivered opening remarks.  During the webinar, UL experts highlighted the latest in OSINT investigative tools, online marketplace strategies, website and research tools, social engineering and creation of fake undercover identities, and more generally on best practices for successful investigations using OSINT.  Participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback and have made multiple requests for follow-on training.  
     
  • On July 17, ICHIPs partnered with the Ghana RLA, the West Africa Legal Advisor, and the West Africa Regional Training Center, in Accra, Ghana, to conduct the second session in their webinar series for 28 prosecutors, investigators, and financial analysts from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. This webinar focused on common COVID-19 fraud schemes designed to exploit fears arising from the global pandemic and techniques for how to investigate them. The ICHIP who led the webinar focused on three COVID-19-related crimes: fake cures peddled over the internet, counterfeit pharmaceuticals and PPE, and government benefits fraud. He provided examples for how law enforcement and prosecutors can use tools to help obtain evidence of attribution and of fraudulent intent. 
     
  • On July 16, ICHIPs presented the first in a series of webinars on IPR criminal enforcement for the Malaysia Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Malaysia Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA), which investigates IPR crimes.  Thirty-two prosecutors and 12 investigators participated.  They discussed turning border seizures of IPR-infringing goods into viable criminal investigations and prosecutions. The ICHIPs focused on border seizures of COVID-19 counterfeit goods, especially in the U.S.  They highlighted some of the measures taken by CBP to expedite inspection and seizures of COVID-19 fraudulent imports.  The ICHIPs then outlined the steps necessary to turn substantial border seizures, especially of IP-infringing goods, into viable criminal investigations and prosecutions.  The participants posed thoughtful questions on physical versus virtual inspection of suspected counterfeit goods by rights holders, the effect of a failed prosecution on a prior seizure of suspected counterfeit goods, and whether seizures of mail packages coming from abroad would implicate the same issues as a border seizure.
     
  • U.S. Embassy Dhaka and ICHIP for the Dark Web and Cryptocurrency Hosted Webinar Series on Dark Web and Cryptocurrency to Provide Tools to Fight Transnational Crime and Terrorism
     
  • On June 24, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Nations Secretariat to present the fifth in a series of webinars, entitled: ENFORCEMENT AGAINST COVID-19 CRIME.  This iteration of the webinar: “Turning Consumer Complaints About COVID-19 Crimes into Criminal Enforcement” was presented to 65 prosecutors, customs officers, regulatory officials, criminal investigators and IP rights holders’ representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  Additionally, attorneys and IPR specialists from the Department and USPTO observed.  The Director of the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute’s (NAGTRI) Center for Consumer Protection (CCP) at the National Association of Attorneys General, and Program Counsel for the NAGTRI CCP were the featured experts.  They discussed the interplay between consumer protection efforts and criminal enforcement and addressed a variety of major consumer protection issues arising during the COVID-19 pandemic, including: (i) fraudulent cure, treatment, protective, or testing products or services; (ii) price gouging on protective equipment and other consumer goods or services; (iii) contact tracing – privacy concerns and fraud concerns; (iv) refunds for canceled travel or events; (v) ensuring consumers receive relief payments; and (vi) mortgage services – protecting consumers’ homes from foreclosure.
     
  • On June 23, ICHIPs presented the fifth webinar in their ongoing series, Enforcement Against COVID-19-related Crime, which focused on the interaction with consumer protection agencies and how to work with them to develop cases. 
     
  • On June 18, ICHIPs presented the second in their webinar series “Chasing COVID Criminals into the Dark: Introduction to Cryptocurrency” to an audience of  47 judges, prosecutors, customs officers, regulatory officials and criminal investigators from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.  New Zealand officials observed. 
     
  • On June 17, ICHIPs partnered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Nations Secretariat to present the fourth in a series of webinars on ENFORCEMENT AGAINST COVID-19 CRIME: “From Regulatory Enforcement to Criminal Enforcement.” 
     
  • On June 17, an ICHIP presented to approximately 330 Chilean police, prosecutors, and judges on best practices for preserving and obtaining electronic evidence from U.S. providers. The ICHIP highlighted the importance of preserving electronic evidence through the G7 24-7 network and strategies for preparing requests to providers. The ICHIP also discussed strategies for approaching U.S. registrars that may be hosting illicit online COVID-19 scams. Finally, the ICHIP stressed the importance of international and industry cooperation to secure preservation of valuable domain and account information from foreign providers in the early stage of these investigations.
     
  • On June 16, ICHIPs, in conjunction with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Council of Europe (COE), presented a webinar titled: “Cybercrime in Africa and the Challenges of International Cooperation.” The webinar provided an in-depth study of cybercrime investigations and prosecutions in the African Region and internationally, including an introduction to dark web marketplaces.  INTERPOL and COE representatives discussed international support available, including the Budapest Convention.  The ICHIPs emphasized their availability to provide support and case-based mentoring going forward.  Sixty-five representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia participated.
     
  • On June 15, ICHIPs, in collaboration with USPTO, held a webinar on common COVID-19 related crimes and how U.S. laws are used to combat these crimes for 30 prosecutors, investigators and regulators from Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Liberia, Zambia, and Namibia. The ICHIPs exchanged ideas with working group members and other interlocutors on mechanisms to charge offenses in their countries and to identify gaps in their legislation. 
     
  • On June 11, ICHIPs conducted a workshop on Tracing and Seizing Cryptocurrency to Investigate and Prosecute Cases for 80 Romanian Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Officers.  This was the third webinar in a series that taught law enforcement representatives about the dark web, money laundering, and both basic and advanced cryptocurrency topics.  The series also emphasized how criminals are trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to commit crimes.  The audience was made up of more than 80 Romanian prosecutors and law enforcement agents from the Ministry of Justice, General Prosecutors Office, organized crime units, economic police, the judicial police, and anti-corruption police.  Representatives from Interpol were also part of the audience.  In his opening remarks, U.S. Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman underscored the importance of this virtual cryptocurrency training, emphasizing that the skills acquired at the webinar will help ensure that criminals are not only caught and prosecuted but also deprived of their ill-gotten gains.
     
  • On June 10, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Nations Secretariat to present a webinar focused on leveraging border seizures of intellectual property infringing goods into viable criminal investigations and prosecutions.  The webinar was the third in their COVID-19-related criminal enforcement series. 
     
  • On June 9, ICHIP-mentored São Paulo Civil Police obtained and executed a search warrant at the recently reopened Shopping Tupan in the Bras neighborhood of the city. Authorities seized approximately 19 tons of counterfeit goods, including watches, clothing, cosmetics, and toys. Authorities briefly closed the mall last year after another major raid. The counterfeit goods infringed on marks belonging to U.S. rights holders including Disney, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger. Authorities estimate the value of the seized goods at $1.7 million. The raid underscores, yet again, that the ICHIP-mentored interagency group continues to address trademark infringement related to COVID-19 despite limited resources and manpower due to the pandemic.
     
  • In a June 3 webinar, an ICHIP discussed best practices for shutting down U.S.-based fraudulent COVID-19 related websites with approximately 167 Ecuadorean police, prosecutors, customs officers, and regulators.  The ICHIP discussed various open source tools prosecutors can use to begin an investigation of a target site and identify the registrar.  He then outlined various strategies for approaching registrars and hosting services in an attempt to have them remove fraudulent material or shut down the sites. Finally, the ICHIP stressed the importance of international and industry cooperation to secure preservation of valuable domain and account information from foreign providers in the early stages of an investigation.
     
  • ICHIPs and RLAs conducted a webinar on combatting crimes involving money laundering, cryptocurrency, and digital evidence for prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Latvia.  The webinars were entitled: “Chasing Criminals and their Money during the Covid-19 Pandemic – Money Laundering, Cryptocurrency, and Digital Evidence” and “Advanced Topics in Cryptocurrency and Digital Evidence.”  This webinar featured presentations on money laundering, on cryptocurrency fundamentals, and digital evidence, including digital forensics by the Director of the Justice Department’s Cybercrime Laboratory. Over 130 prosecutors and law enforcement agents from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria and Latvia participated in the introductory session, and 115 prosecutors and law enforcement agents attended the advanced session.  INTERPOL officials also observed the two webinars.
     
  • On May 21, ICHIPs led a virtual workshop and mentoring session for the Pharma Crime Working Group.  Members participated from Ghana, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and the Gambia.  The ICHIPs focused on taking down fraudulent COVID-19 websites, including what to include in a request to service providers.   An expert from the Justice Department’s CCIPS cyber lab described recent trends in cell phone forensics.  Afterwards, a working group member asked for assistance in drafting cybercrime legislation.  Then, on May 27, the ICHIPs, in coordination with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, led a virtual workshop on combatting fraudulent COVID-19 websites.  Thirty representatives participated from Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Botswana, Tanzania, and Liberia. 
     
  • On May 21, an ICHIP participated in an international webinar hosted by the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property (IP) Attaché in Sao Paulo for approximately 40 Brazilian prosecutors, police, and customs officers on best practices for investigating and taking down online COVID-19 scams.  The French IP attaché and Mercado Livre, the region’s leading e-commerce platform, also participated in the program.   The ICHIP discussed emerging trends in the sale of counterfeit goods in Sao Paulo due to COVID-19.  The ICHIP also said that counterparts needed to prepare for a sustained migration by counterfeit vendors to online marketplaces as future waves of infection minimize foot traffic to physical malls.  An ICHIP-mentored Brazilian prosecutor then explained how he had worked with Mercado Livre to take down approximately 6,000 suspect COVID-19 related postings.  Their work also led Mercado Livre to ban approximately 1,000 sellers from the platform.  The prosecutor thanked the ICHIP for helping him engage effectively with private industry to combat these scams.  The program underscored the ICHIP Network’s success in sharing expertise and best practices with foreign counterparts so that they can successfully investigate and prosecute cyber and IP crimes, especially those stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
     
  • On May 20, ICHIPs partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Association of Southeast Nations Secretariat to present the first webinar of their COVID-19-related criminal enforcement series.  The focus of the first webinar was best practices on taking down fraudulent COVID-19 related websites offering counterfeit, substandard, or non-existent personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals.  The ICHIPs emphasized that voluntary action has been the most effective and expedient enforcement method so far, especially for officials seeking to shut down websites hosted in foreign countries.  Thirty-seven prosecutors, police officers, customs officers, criminal investigators and IP rights holders from various countries participated, including Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam participated.  Then, on June 3, the ICHIPs presented the second webinar for 132 prosecutors, police officers, customs officers, criminal investigators and IP holders from Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. 
     
  • On May 19, an ICHIP co-hosted a webinar for 20 Romanian law enforcement officers on investigating ransomware attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ICHIP partnered with the FBI as well as with the cybercrime unit of the Romanian Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (DCCO).  This is a timely topic because Romania, like the rest of the world, has been hit with a dramatic increase in cyber-attacks, particularly those that appear to be launched by transnational criminal organizations.  U.S. Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman and Romanian Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu provided opening remarks.  Ambassador Zuckerman praised the importance of the global ICHIP program while Minister Predoiu called the collaboration with the U.S. Embassy and ICHIP program “a cornerstone in the strategy of action against domestic and international crime.”   The feedback from participants has been very positive and the event received extensive media coverage within Romania.   
OPDAT Bucharest

Left to right: Romanian Minister Predoiu, U.S. Ambassador Zuckerman, and the ICHIP at the May 19 OPDAT webinar on investigating Ransomware attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • On April 30, in partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and INTERPOL, an ICHIP organized and conducted a webinar focused on COVID-19 related cyber and IP crimes for more than 60 Romanian prosecutors, police and other government officials. U.S. Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman and Romanian Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu delivered opening remarks. ICHIPs, alongside representatives from INTERPOL, EUROPOL, National IPR Center/Homeland Security Investigations, Food and Drug Administration, and Council of Europe, delivered presentations on topics ranging from best practices in investigating and prosecuting COVID-19 related cyber and IP crimes to measures to take down websites being used to perpetrate these offenses. The Romanian Ministry of Justice issued a press release in which the Justice Minister praised the event, highlighting not only that “[i]t is time to make sure that the Internet will not become a playground for cybercriminals and hackers,” but also that the cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the U.S. government is “a cornerstone in our action strategy against domestic and international crime.” 
OPDAT Covid 3

U.S. Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman (center left); Romanian Minister of Justice Catalin Predoiu (bottom left); Kirsten Pedersen, Head of International IP Crime Investigators College, INTERPOL (top right); and the ICHIP (bottom right) presenting during the April 30 webinar on COIVD-19 related cyber and IP crimes.

  • On April 23, an ICHIP led a webinar on cyberfraud and cybersecurity for 186 leading members of the private sector in Malaysia. The ICHIP covered the importance of law enforcement/private sector cooperation and best practices for companies to protect themselves against cybercrime as well as provided an overview of the current trends in COVID-19 related cybercrime, such as healthcare organizations being targeted for ransomware, increased numbers of COVID-19 related domains used for cybercrime, internet fraud and video-teleconferencing hijacking. Then, on May 14, ICHIPs hosted a webinar for senior managers from the Malaysian National Cybersecurity Agency (NACSA) on the current state of COVID-19 related cybercrime and how to takedown fraudulent COVID-19 websites. The ICHIPs discussed current COVID-19 cyber threats and U.S. law enforcement’s response to these crimes. The ICHIPs also explained the methods and processes for law enforcement officials to take down fraudulent Covid-19 websites. 
     
  • On March 27, an ICHIP-mentored police officer and member of the ICHIP’s Africa Regional Pharma Crime Working Group shared pictures of seized, unauthorized COVID-19 medicine with the Group. 
     
  • On March 26, in an ICHIP-supported action, a state prosecutor in Brazil took down a fake site purporting to belong to a leading Brazilian brewery. The website publicized the distribution of free sanitizer, but in fact was infecting the computer systems of numerous Brazilian consumers with malware. The ICHIP-mentored prosecutor further requested that the site’s U.S.-based registrar suspend it and preserve any account and transactional data linked to the site. The investigation is ongoing, and the ICHIP continues to mentor the prosecutor remotely on this case and on best practices for engaging with U.S. registrars and providers. The ICHIP also put out a Public Service Announcement with tips for consumers to avoid online COVID-19 scams and to navigate the internet safely (posted on the U.S. Consulate in São Paulo’s Facebook and Instagram pages). Previously, ICHIP-mentored Brazilian Ministry of Justice officials created a webpage warning Brazilians about cyber scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic such as phone calls or emails ostensibly containing health updates or pleas for donations. 
OPDAT Covid1

ICHIP-mentored Brazilian Ministry of Justice officials launched a COVID-19 cyber scams page.

  • In honor of World IP Day, the ICHIP sent out a PSA encouraging collaboration on COVID-19 IPR criminal enforcement (produced by the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong and posted to its Facebook page).
     
  • An ICHIP-produced video on the risk of counterfeit medicines was featured during a live TV show on the Nigerian Television Authority.  Following the video, the ICHIP-inspired, Embassy-produced movie, Fishbone, on the risk of counterfeit medicines, was televised.  The ICHIP's video and Fishbone were featured on all local and international NTA networks on April 26 in honor of World IP Day.  To bolster engagement with online audiences, Fishbone premiered on YouTube on May 1st, 2020 and has generated over 72,000 views. 

 

Updated February 19, 2021

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