Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Virtual Task Force Nets 565 Cyber Criminals

An international (virtual) task force dubbed "Operation Global Con" has netted 565 cyber criminals that have victimized approximately 3 million people.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who was joined by FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras, Chief Postal Inspector Lee Heath and Costa Rica's Attorney General Francisco Dall’ Anese Ruiz issued a prepared statement:

Over the past 15 months, United States and foreign law enforcement agencies have targeted international fraudulent mass-marketing schemes in the largest enforcement operation of its kind. The results of Operation Global Con have been dramatic – with 565 arrests, both here and abroad.

We all know the annoyance of phone calls, junk mail, and spam and pop-up ads that bombard us with seemingly incredible financial offers. For millions of Americans, these intrusions have been more than a nuisance.

Operation Global Con targeted international mass-marketing schemes. These criminals used telemarketing, the Internet, and mass mailings, to cheat unsuspecting people through bogus investments, fake lotteries and sweepstakes schemes, phony credit cards, and tax frauds.

In Miami, Florida, for instance, two defendants allegedly duped investors in the United States and Europe for more than $3 million dollars. Investors in Discovery Capital believed it to be legitimate because the defendants would occasionally use funds received from new investors to send out purported interest and dividends. Allegedly, the rest of the money went to fancy cars and million-dollar homes for the defendants.

Link to prepared statement, here.

The effort was done with the partnership and support of several countries, including Canada, Costa Rica, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Nigeria.

Also released on the DOJ site was a fact sheet, which gives more detail on this operation.

This is positive news, but my best guess (based on extensive study of the subject) is that there are plenty more cyber-criminals still in business out there. The positive part of it is the fact that we are now seeing signs of "international cooperation" into what has been dubbed a "borderless" problem.

If you think you have spotted one of these scams - or are a victim - the best thing to do is report it.

Here are some good places to do so:

Federal Trade Commission

Internet Crime Complaint Center

If you are Canadian, Phonebusters is the place to go to report activity, or seek help.

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