Operation LUDUS led to the seizure of almost 5 million toys, for a total worth of over €16 million. The operation ran between 19 October 2020 and 31 January 2021 – that is, around the past winter holiday season, a busy period for shoppers looking to buy gifts for children.
LUDUS targeted illegal shipments and storage of counterfeit toys. Organised by Europol and supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the operation saw the participation of a total 24 countries, including four non-EU countries. 11 individuals were arrested and 125 judicial cases were opened as a result of the operation.
As part of operation LUDUS, OLAF ran a targeted action that resulted in 191 positive controls, during which 114,242 counterfeit toys and over 8 tonnes of dangerous toys were seized by the participating agencies. During the action, OLAF facilitated the cooperation and activities of customs agencies and market surveillance authorities in the 20 EU Member States involved: Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Malta, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Cyprus.
OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä said: ‘Operation LUDUS and OLAF’s targeted action did not only protect shoppers and legitimate businesses from fake goods. These toys can also be dangerous and put our children at risk. The winter holiday period always requires particular attention from authorities and consumers alike to make sure that festive gifts are safe for our children. I am glad that OLAF could lend its expertise to its long-standing partners in yet another successful operation to keep European safe and protect rules-abiding businesses from fraudsters.’
More information on operation LUDUS is available in Europol’s press release.
- Publication date
- 8 March 2021
- European Anti-Fraud Office
- News type
- OLAF news article