The US Department of Justice has announced the arrests of more than 150 individuals in a nationwide law enforcement effort to crack down on card crime, identity theft and phishing scams.
The action, dubbed Operation Web Snare, entailed more than 160 investigations over a three month period between June and August. Investigators say they have identified more than 150,000 victims with estimated losses of more than $215 million.
More than 140 search and seizure warrants were executed as part of the operation, and prosecutors have obtained 117 criminal complaints, informations, and indictments to date. The charges have led to more than 150 arrests or convictions.
US Attorney General John Ashcroft estimates that identity theft alone costs US businesses over $50 billion each year. He says: "When you have $50 billion worth of damage being done to the economy of the United States of America, then it deserves some of our attention."
At a press conference, Ashcroft also noted that the US had worked with law enforcement officials in Cyprus, Nigeria and Romania, to track down international credit card crime rings.