US swoops on cyber-fraudsters

Link: OLAF seeks fraud information exchange

The ongoing action, which included arrests of several people earlier yesterday, is known as Operation Web Snare. This initiative targets online economic crimes including identity theft, fraud, counterfeit software, computer intrusions, and other intellectual property crimes.

‘The cases involved show the extent to which alleged online criminal activity increasingly is not only multi-jurisdictional, but involves the blending of traditional crimes with various forms of computer crime, such as computer intrusion and malicious computer programs,’ the DoJ stated.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said that he has directed the various Justice Department offices”to make full use of the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act” signed into law by President Bush on July 15. The Act prescribes stiff prison terms for those who use identity theft to commit other crimes.

‘Operation Web Snare also shows that America’s justice community is seeking to anticipate, out think and adapt to new trends in Internet crime,’ said attorney general Ashcroft.

‘This effort shows how effective law enforcement can be against online crime when all levels of government – domestically and internationally – work together.’

More than 160 investigations have been opened as part of Web Snare.

Investigators have identified more than 150,000 victims with estimated losses of more than $215m. More than 140 search and seizure warrants were executed as part of the operation, and prosecutors have obtained 117 criminal complaints, informations, and indictments to date. The charges have led to more than 150 arrests or convictions.

The operation involved coordination among 36 U.S. Attorneys’ offices nationwide, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, 37 of the FBI’s 56 field divisions, 13 of the Postal Inspection Service’s 18 field divisions, the FTC, together with a variety of other federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies.

‘As today’s action shows, collaboration between the Department of Justice, law enforcement representatives and private industry can help stop cybercriminals who are employing increasingly sophisticated and destructive tactics,’ added Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, in a statement.

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