WASHINGTON (KCBS) – With $1.5 billion expected to be spent online on Cyber Monday, the federal government is being extra vigilant in looking for websites selling counterfeit goods, including those originating in California.

In an undercover operation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, along with law enforcement agencies from across the globe seized 132 domain names on Monday.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

Dubbed Project Cyber Monday 3, ICE Assistant Special Agent Anthony Ho said the seizures include some websites that originated in both Central and Southern California, which were caught selling all kinds of counterfeit goods.

“These were high-level, fashion accessory items. We’re talking about brand name goods like Nike, Hermes and Coach,” he said.

Ho said this is becoming a growing problem around the world and the annual economic impact is a billion dollars for the companies who lose sales to counterfeiters.

And for consumers who are duped into thinking they are buying brand name and designer products?

“Everybody’s a bargain hunter at Christmas time. Everybody wants to get a good deal,” Ho said. “Unfortunately the problem is growing because you can’t examine the goods and you’re making a guess that this is a legitimate product and sometimes it’s not.”

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Ho said that consumers should never buy from bulk emails they get, should use a credit card so they have some recourse and if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

The sites were seized after copyright holders confirmed that the products they were selling were indeed counterfeit. The sites now also have a banner and video explaining the seizure and educating the public about the sale of counterfeit goods.

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