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Tightening the Net on Cyber Criminals


Web Snare logoSpamming, Spoofing, Phishing, & Hacking.

A boutique law firm? No. Rather just a few of many cyber-crime schemes perpetrated over the Internet against people and companies worldwide. These crimes cost our country billions of dollars each year -- and they are increasingly used by terrorist groups to finance their activities.

What are we doing about them?
Lots. At a press conference on 8/26/04, we and our partners announced the results of "Operation Web Snare," a coordinated takedown of suspects in more than 160 cyber-crime cases, putting an end to schemes where nearly 150,000 victims lost more than $215 million.

Here's a sampling of the cases:

Spamming: A Los Angeles-area man allegedly stole thousands of valid e-mail addresses from a previous employer and sold them online. He was also a "wireless spammer," driving around LA using unsecured residential wireless networks to broadcast pornography ads from his laptop.

Phishing/Spoofing: A man in Iowa allegedly sent e-mails to customers of the MSN ISP from a "spoofed" MSN e-mail address telling them to update their financial account records with MSN by "just clicking on this link." When they did, the information was snapped up ... and not by MSN. The case led us to an Internet service provider in India, a "redirect" service in Austria (a tactic that hides e-mail senders' true identity), and ultimately back to the subject's computer.

Hacking: A Romanian computer hacker and his five American accomplices were indicted for allegedly conspiring to steal more than $10 million in computer equipment from a California computer equipment supplier after hacking into its computer system.

What's the secret to these kinds of successes? Partnerships. Our Cyber Division, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, software and marketing industries, international, state and local law enforcement, and other federal agencies. Over the past year, we've created or significantly expanded more than 50 joint cyber-crime task forces across the United States.

In the words of Jana Monroe, Assistant Director of our Cyber Division: "The success of Operation Web Snare is a testament to the effectiveness of our law enforcement partnerships, as well as the cooperation of the private sector. We are committed to chasing down cyber criminals, wherever they are and wherever they go."

For more information on these and other cases in Operation Websnare, as well as tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of these kind of attacks, click here.

Links: DOJ Press Release | Los Angeles Press Release | Internet Crime Complaint Center | Cyber Investigations