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  1. #1
    VPJunkie is offline Private Member
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    Default Over 100 Arrested in U.S. Spam Crackdown

    Aug 25, 12:02 PM (ET)

    By CURT ANDERSON

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department has made a series of arrests against purveyors of e-mail "spam" as part of a nationwide crackdown against Internet scam artists, a marketing group said Wednesday.

    The Direct Marketing Association, which has put up $500,000 to help the FBI and Justice Department with the probe, said in a statement that the arrests stem from a yearlong investigation intended to "engender greater trust and comfort in legitimate e-mail communications."

    Details of "Operation Slam Spam" were expected to be announced Thursday, according to the marketing group and a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Justice Department officials declined to comment.

    The investigation involves more than 100 arrests, search warrants and other enforcement actions, such as subpoenas.

    Many of the cases involve "phishing," which are e-mails that appear to be from financial institutions and other legitimate businesses but are actually fraudulent. They are used to induce people to provide credit card numbers and other personal information.

    Other cases in the crackdown involve pornography and use of spam, or unsolicited e-mails, to infect computers with viruses that can obtain personal data or be used be a hacker to further spread the virus.

    Congress last year passed a law making fraudulent and deceptive e-mail practices a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Industry groups say spam e-mail accounts for almost three-quarters of the e-mail in the United States and costs consumers and businesses as much as $10 billion a year.

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    Wow! That's great news. 100 arrests is quite a lot of people, hopefully they caught some of the worst spammers. Supposedly a lot of the spam in circulation is caused by only a few people. If some of those guys have been caught then there's a chance the volume of spam might drop noticably. Here's hoping!

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    Thats great news, hopefully they will get a few more. I'm sick of getting spam emails in my inbox.

    What really gets me is spam from people promoting online casinos that I promote on my site!

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    Techwoman

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    VPJunkie is offline Private Member
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    Some followup -

    Justice Dept. Fries Spam Scams

    WASHINGTON, August 27, 2004


    (CBS/AP) A summer-long effort targeting Internet crime has resulted in dozens of arrests and convictions on charges including use of "spam" e-mail to steal credit card numbers, computer hacking and online fraud, Justice Department officials said Thursday.

    The suspects were identified during more than 160 federal investigations into a variety of Internet crimes that victimized about 150,000 people and caused $215 million in estimated losses, Attorney General John Ashcroft said. The initiative began June 1 and ended Thursday.

    Although the arrests make only a tiny dent in overall online crime, Ashcroft said it was important that law enforcement officials demonstrate they take the problem seriously. Identity theft alone, he said, costs the U.S. economy an estimated $50 billion a year.

    "This is a series of cases that is designed to signal that we do not believe the Internet to be off-base for law enforcement," Ashcroft told reporters.

    John A. Greco Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Direct Marketing Association, said the cases targeting purveyors of e-mail spam would help build trust among consumers about using the Internet to buy legitimate goods and services.

    "For too long, spammers have operated with impunity," he said. "For too long, they have taken comfort in the shadows of cyberspace."

    DMA put up $500,000 to assist law enforcement in tracking down the most notorious spammers.

    "We want spammers to realize that spam is not a free game for them and that they face real penalties if they continue," said H. Robert Wientzen, former president of DMA.

    Although law enforcement has been slow to take an interest in spam, the agencies are becoming more aggressive as the volume increases and the messages more often are being used to perpetrate other crimes, such as identity theft and credit card fraud.

    Announcement of the initiative came one day after the Justice Department disclosed the FBI had searched homes and an Internet service provider in the nation's first federal copyright infringement action taken against a peer-to-peer, or P2P, network, in which users can access files directly from one another's computer hard drives.

    Phishing, a newer phenomenon, has zoomed up the charts of Internet crime. In the past year, transactions carried out after phishing scams cost banks and credit card companies an estimated $1.2 billion.

    In May of this year alone, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, an industry consortium, more than 1,100 new scams were launched.

    According to the research firm Gartner Inc., an estimated 57 million adults in the United States had received a phishing e-mail as of May.

    Usually, the bogus e-mail looks as if it came from a bank, payment service or vendor such as eBay, claiming that account information, passwords or credit card numbers need to be verified. Often, they threaten to discontinue service if the information is not provided.

    Users are directed to a phony Web site designed to look official, where they can enter the information requested. Computer experts advise consumers never to respond to such solicitations.

    The effort described Thursday, dubbed "Operation Web Snare," produced 103 arrests and 53 convictions during the three-month time frame, although some of them overlap and some convictions were included in the total for people arrested before the initiative began. The Federal Trade Commission, FBI, Postal Inspection Service and foreign agencies were all involved.

    Among the cases:
    The June arrests of two men on charges of conspiring to steal a copy of the entire list of 92 million America Online members, with the goal of selling it to e-mail "spammers" who would then be able to send members unwanted messages.


    Roman Vega, a Ukrainian arrested in Cyprus, was extradited to California in June to face charges of buying and selling credit card numbers obtained illegally from sources around the world, including online merchants and financial processing companies.


    Jay R. Echouafni, chief executive officer of Orbit Communications Corp. in Massachusetts, was indicted this week along with five others on charges that he hired computer hackers to attack his firm's online competitors. Prosecutors say the attack cost the competitors $2 million and temporarily disrupted Web sites for the Homeland Security Department and Amazon.com.


    In Utah, R. Mark Pentrack is serving an 11-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to several charges stemming from a scheme in which he purported to sell car parts, aircraft parts and other items over the Internet but never delivered them. Pentrack's victims sent him more than $200,000.

    Wientzen said he expects a second round of actions in the fall.

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