ICC foils $3.9 billion online bank scam

ICC foils $3.9 billion online bank scam

The Commercial Crime Services unit of the International Chamber of Commerce is reporting the closure of a $3.9 billion online banking fraud involving fake documents bearing the Euroclear and Bloomberg names.

The CCS Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB), which carried out investigations with the support of the CCS Cybercrime Unit (CCU), reports that fraudsters had published fake European banking guarantees on at least 29 different Websites to lure potential clients to invest in get-rich-quick schemes.

According to CCS, the Web addresses gave the impression that the scam sites were run by either Euroclear Bank or Bloomberg. Examples of these domain names are www.euroclear30.50megs.com and www.bloomberg.50megs.com.

Jon Merrett, assistant director of ICC's Commercial Crime Bureau and Cybercrime Unit says the ICC was alerted to the scam by international banks. "The amounts represented on the fraudulent sites ranged from $50 million to over $400 million," he says.

The guarantees fetched advance fees of hundreds of throusands of dollars, says Merrett, and were to be used in bogus High Yield Investment Programs (HYIP) which promised high returns from low risk financial instrument trading.

Through the CCS member network, the bank guarantees were confirmed to be fraudulent, and Euroclear Bank and Bloomberg were alerted. The ICC approached the fraudster's Internet Service Provider (ISP) who complied with requests to shut down the offending sites. Four people have so far been arrested in Lugano and San Francisco in connection with the crime.

"By shutting down the fraudulent sites in cases like this, we are not only protecting investors from scams, but also helping companies such as Bloomberg to maintain their reputation," says Merrett. "The big risk is that these frauds could rock the trust that the banking, finance and insurance industries are built on."

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