Authorities Clamp Down On Internet Fraud Scams

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Police in America and Romania have swooped on gangs operating Internet fraud schemes

Authorities in the United States and Romania are said to have arrested more than 100 people in connection with Internet fraud schemes.

According to the US Justice Department, the 100 plus people that were arrested are part of a a year-long effort to stop Internet fraud schemes, that have apparently cost Americans more than $100 million (£62m).

The Justice Department said that on Friday Romanian police had carried out 117 raids, and the BBC reported that 90 people has been arrested in sweeps in nine cities. Arrests also took place in the US.

eBay Fraud

Essentially the suspects are accused of cheating an estimated 1,000 online shoppers. The Justice Department said that the fraudsters used websites such as eBay and Craigslist.org.

“Conspirators located in Romania would post items for sale such as cars, motorcycles and boats on Internet auction and online websites,” said the department. “They would instruct victims located in the United States and elsewhere who wanted to buy those items to wire transfer the purchase money to a fictitious name they claimed to be an employee of an escrow company.”

“Once the victim wired the funds, the co-conspirators in Romania would text information about the wire transfer to co-conspirators in the United States known as ‘arrows’ to enable them to retrieve the wired funds,” it said. “They would also provide the arrows with instructions as to where to send the funds after retrieval.”

“The arrows in the United States would go to money transmitter service counters such as Western Union or MoneyGram International, provide false documents including passports and drivers’ licenses in the name of the recipient of the wire transfer, and obtain the funds,” it said. “They would subsequently wire the funds overseas, typically to individuals in Romania, minus a percentage kept for their commissions.”

Increasing Deception

It seems that cyber-criminals are increasingly turning to tactics of deception to trick people in order to steal from them, as security procedures are tightened up around the world.

Back in May 2010, security researchers warned that websites such as eBay and Amazon are increasingly being roped into schemes by cyber-criminals.

But of course fraudulent activity is not just limited to the Internet.

In June a new survey revealed the true impact from telephone fraudsters, who phone up and warn users their PCs are at risk. The Microsoft survey found that the vast majority (79 percent) of people who had been deceived had suffered some sort of financial loss. It has costs victims, on average, $875 (£543).

And fraudsters are also utilising email to carry out their crimes.

In February for example a scam-email reporting website was opened by Fraud Alert to help the UK government’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (run by the police) to track down the confidence tricksters.

Victims of email scammers can send the bogus messages they receive to the specially created website.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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