The investigation, begun Oct. 1 and dubbed Operation Cyber Sweep, involved police from Ghana to Southern California and uncovered 125,000 victims who had lost more than $100 million, he told a news conference. Seventy indictments to date have led to arrests or convictions of 125 people, with more expected as the probe continues.
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The crackdown stemmed from indications that Internet fraud continues to rise. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center, run in part by the FBI, referred some 58,000 complaints to law enforcement in the first nine months of 2003 — compared with 48,000 for all of 2002.
Chief Postal Inspector Lee Heath said many suspects were simply transferring time-honored scams to the Internet.
“We'd like to say it's just old wine in a new bottle,” he said.
Federal agents said they had not yet found the perpetrators of the Blaster worm and SoBig e-mail virus that disabled millions of computers this summer, but had gained some valuable leads, thanks to a reward program set up by Microsoft. [Privacy Digest]