Visa Inc. and Visa Europe today announced support for “Operation Pangea III,” a global law enforcement action coordinated by INTERPOL targeting the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines resulting in arrests across the globe and the seizure of thousands of potentially harmful medicines. The law enforcement operation, which took place October 5-12, 2010 in more than 40 countries, is the largest of its kind in support of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT). Visa Inc. and Visa Europe joined customs agencies, regulators, and Internet Service Providers around the world to provide investigative support and information to help law enforcement agencies identify and build cases against illegal pharmacies.

“This is a clear message to rogue online pharmacies around the world: you have no refills left,” said Michael E. Smith, Global Risk Executive, Visa Inc. “While the vast majority of e-commerce merchants operate legitimate businesses, there are some online pharmacies that sell illegal, counterfeit products that endanger public health and erode trust in the payment system by defrauding consumers. We work with law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL and support their crucial investigations to ensure that illegal activity does not threaten the integrity of the Visa payment system and harm cardholders.”

“Visa has a framework in place to require financial institutions that work with online merchants to ensure e-commerce transactions are legal,” said Stanley Skoglund Senior Vice President Payment System Risk at Visa Europe. “However, it is law enforcement actions such as Operation Pangea III that have the most significant effect on rogue pharmacies that potentially harm consumers. We’re pleased to be able to support INTERPOL and global law enforcement and help curb the problem of illegal pharmaceutical sales.”

In the wake of Operation Pangea III, Visa Inc. and Visa Europe reminded financial institution clients of Visa rules requiring them to review the sales practices of their merchant clients and prevent illegal transactions. Visa does not restrict specific types of goods or services purchased by Visa cardholders or sold by Visa-accepting merchants. However, all transactions must comply with applicable laws in both the country of the buyer and of the seller.

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