Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced a new campaign against crime on
the Internet, called "Cyber Sweep." It is billed as the largest coordinated law
enforcement operation conducted against on-line crime and expands an existing
national campaign to a global effort.
Operation Cyber Sweep's national dimension was launched last month and has
relied on cooperation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Division,
the Federal Trade Commission, The Postal Service, and Immigration and Justice
Mr. Ashcroft lists the operation's achievement so far, including more than
70 criminal indictments.
"Over the past seven weeks, this coordinated criminal investigation has netted
more than 125 [cases], in which more than 125,000 victims lost more than $100
million," he said. "More than 350 targeted subjects are involved in this operation,
resulting in 125 arrests already and convictions included in those arrests."
Mr. Ashcroft points out that the proliferation of computers and increased
access to the Internet makes users more vulnerable to criminal activities,
including fraudulent activities like bogus on-line investment clubs, copyright
violations and identity theft.
The top U.S. law official says the campaign against cyber crime now has become
"Criminals may be half way around the world, but the Internet gets them close
enough to pick the virtual pockets of consumers faster than it takes to send
an e-mail," said John Ashcroft. "Second, on-line criminals are using more sophisticated
techniques to conceal their true identities or locations from law enforcement.
Law enforcement faces the challenge of adapting and out-thinking internet criminals
and on-line abusers."
Mr. Ashcroft has announced increased cooperation with other governments,
including Ghana and Nigeria, to track suspects.
Security experts are also raising concerns that terrorist networks are using
the Internet to infiltrate and sabotage security and national infrastructures.
They see the increased focus on cyber crimes as an essential element in the
global campaign against terrorism.