Ashcroft Announces 150 Arrests in Spam Roundup

The Justice Department has made 150 arrests and filed 117 criminal complaints and indictments in a roundup of online fraud, spam and cybercrime cases, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday.

Operation Web Snare, which is ongoing and included several arrests made yesterday, targeted identity theft, fraud, counterfeit software, computer intrusions and other crimes. The announcement follows Wednesday's unveiling of arrests and legal action taken against a file-sharing network by the Justice Department, the first federal criminal copyright action taken against a peer-to-peer network.

As part of Operation Web Snare, the department conducted more than 160 investigations and 140 search warrants since June 1 and identified more than 150,000 victims with estimated losses of $215 million.

Some of the cases handled by the Justice Department include:

· An indictment against a Romanian man accused of hacking into a technology distributor's online ordering system to have fraudulent orders shipped to addresses around the United States.

· The extradition of a man from Cyprus accused of trafficking in illegally obtained credit card information from around the world.

· An 11-year prison sentence for a Utah man to offer car and aircraft parts — which he didn't have — over the Internet, then taking buyer's money without delivering.

· A guilty plea in an extortion case against a Pakistani man who contacted Eddie Bauer via e-mail claiming to have photos showing child labor being used to manufacture the company's apparel.

In some of the cases, the Justice Department received assistance from the Direct Marketing Association's Operation Slam Spam, the DMA said. The DMA said it has contributed $500,000 to the joint effort with law enforcement to track down deceptive e-mail spammers.

“We hope that our participation and support of Operation Slam Spam further demonstrates that legitimate marketers are putting a stake in the ground and are letting spammers know that we aren't going to give up on the promise of e-mail as a trusted and reliable vehicle for global commerce, communication and education, without putting up a very hard fight,” DMA president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. said in a statement.

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