FBI charges 90 in Net scam busts

Federal and state criminal charges will be brought against roughly 90 individuals and companies for crimes including wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and software piracy related to Internet scams, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday.

The crimes, which allegedly bilked more than 56,000 customers out of more than US$117 million, were uncovered with the help of the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and "Operation Cyber Loss," a program initiated by the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC), according to an FBI release. The IFCC is the result of a partnership between the FBI and the NW3C and has operated since May 8. The government organizations worked with a variety of companies such as Microsoft Corp., PaylPal Inc. and The Motley Fool Inc. to identify and report on violators.

Those charged were involved in Internet fraud schemes including auction fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, credit/debit card fraud, investment fraud and multilevel marketing and Ponzi/Pyramid schemes, the FBI said. Internet fraud is defined as fraud that uses one or more components of the Internet such as Web sites, e-mail or chat rooms, to effect the scheme.

Many of the charges brought Wednesday stemmed from complaints made to the IFCC, the FBI said. The IFCC provides a Web form where users who feel they've been the victims of fraud can file complaints.

The cases required coordination between 28 FBI field offices, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and police departments in nine states.

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