Crackdown on Internet Fraud Slams Spammers

Federal and state law enforcement agencies have teamed together in recent weeks to arrest or charge dozens of people with crimes related to online scams, the New York Times reported.

Since Congress passed a law last year that calls for fines and prison sentences for those convicted of sending fake e-mails, efforts have multiplied to fight spammers. Some Internet abusers send millions of junk e-mail messages; others commit identity theft; some perpetrate credit card fraud and other financial crimes. Still, spam makes up 65 percent of all e-mail, according to Symantec, a company that makes a widely used spam filter.

"We felt that the key to the new law was enforcement," said H. Robert Wientzen, who recently stepped down as the president of the Direct Marketing Association and is involved in the anti-spam campaign. "We want spammers to realize that spam is not a free game for them and that they face real penalties if they continue."

The Direct Marketing Association has contributed $500,000 to the enforcement effort in the belief that spammers undermine the public's trust in e-mail as a commercial medium.

In a separate operation, federal agents conducted raids in Texas, New York and Wisconsin on Wednesday to crack down on the theft of copyrighted materials through the Internet. Charges are likely to be filed later, CNN reported.

The Internet fraud operation, called “Operation Slam Spam,” has built a database of known spammers, drawing from law enforcement agencies and private companies. It has also used online decoys to catch spammers and has purchased products advertised in spam messages to trace financial records to their sources.

The cases are almost always complex and lead to others involved in spam and other crimes, Steve Linford, director of the Spamhaus Project, told the New York Times.

"These cases never end," said Linford, who works with law enforcement agencies. "When they seize a whole bunch of computers from one gang, they normally see a lot of information that leads to another gang."

While it's not clear whether the increase in criminal prosecutions will make much of a difference, Linford thinks it may slow the flood of junk e-mail, at least temporarily.

"Spammers believe that they will never be caught,'' Linford said. "If they get 10, 20, 30 well-known spammers, the rest of the spam community will start to notice. Any spammers who can be made to give up because they think the F.B.I. is getting too close is very good for us.''

You may like these other stories...

IRS must take oath on Lerner emails: judgeMackenzie Weinger of Politico reported on Thursday that a federal judge ordered the IRS to explain under oath how it lost emails connected to Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the...
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday morning that would permanently extend the bonus depreciation tax break for businesses.The measure, HR 4718, which was crafted by Representative Pat...
The Republican-led House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill this week that would permanently extend the bonus depreciation tax break. But don’t expect President Obama to sign it.The Obama administration said...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.