Federal Crackdown on Web Fraud Leads to 62 Arrests
Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Sixty-two persons have been arrested in a major coast-to-coast Internet scheme that defrauded 56,000 people out of more than $117 million, the FBI said yesterday.
The arrests were part of "Operation Cyber Loss," a massive federal and state crackdown that targeted Internet pyramid schemes, phony "Beanie Baby" auctions and other Web scams involving 61 federal, state and local investigations. More than 88 people have been charged so far in the investigation.
"Internet fraud, whether it's in the form of securities and investment schemes, online auctions and merchandising schemes, credit- card fraud or identity theft, has been one of the fastest growing and pervasive forms of white-collar crime," said Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who helped announce the arrests.
State and federal charges in the probe include fraud by wire, mail fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and intellectual property rights violations. Investigators have been serving arrest and search warrants in the case over the past 10 days in what Mr. Thompson described as an inquiry "of unprecedented scope against Internet fraud." The arrests by federal and state law enforcement officers involved suspects from New York to Miami to San Diego. The investigation began based on information gathered at the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a clearinghouse jointly operated by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center that opened last year.
The center, which has reviewed more than 36,000 complaints since it began, receives complaints from consumers and companies on its Web site (www.ifccfbi.gov), analyzes the information to find common threads, and distributes leads to about 1,000 law enforcement agencies and regulators. …