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...

The law makes it difficult for itemizers to deduct medical expenses. To reap any write-off, you must pay bills that aren't covered by insurance, reimbursed by employers or otherwise satisfied by, for example, a company-...
Drug patents held overseas can pare makers’ tax billsAs the Obama administration tries to stop companies from avoiding taxes by moving their headquarters overseas, the makers of some of the world’s most lucrative...
Starting in October, the IRS will send warning letters to tax return preparers who appear not to be complying with Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) due diligence requirements.Section 6695(g) of the Internal Revenue Code...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 9In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards.
Oct 15This webinar presents the requirements of AU-C 600, Audits of Group Financial Statements (Including the Work of Component Auditors).
Oct 21Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience’s communication style.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.