Sunday, June 27, 2010

FTC Says Scammers Stole Millions, Using Virtual Companies

Robert McMillan writes on ComputerWorld:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has disrupted a long-running online scam that allowed offshore fraudsters to steal millions of dollars from U.S. consumers -- often by taking just pennies at a time.

The scam, which had been run for about four years years, according to the FTC, provides a case lesson in how many of the online services used to lubricate business in the 21st century can equally be misused for fraud.

"It was a very patient scam," said Steve Wernikoff, a staff attorney with the FTC who is prosecuting the case. "The people who are behind this are very meticulous."

The FTC has not identified those responsible for the fraud, but in March, it quietly filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Illinois. This has frozen the gang's U.S. assets and also allowed the FTC to shut down merchant accounts and 14 "money mules" -- U.S. residents recruited by the criminals to move money offshore to countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Estonia.

More here.


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