The Long Arm of the Law Reaches Online

The Justice Department recently announced Operation Web Snare, a major crackdown on cyber-crime that will include arrests, subpoenas and property seizures of alleged e-mail spammers and online scam artists. The DOJ has already arrested, charged and convicted more than 150 people in the last three months.
The operation – a coordinated effort among federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies – couldn’t come at a better time, as Internet-related complaints accounted for 55 percent of all consumer fraud reports that the FTC received in 2003, up from 45 percent in 2002.
The heavily targeted scams include:
ÿ Phishing – Involves fictitious e-mails from employers and businesses that induce citizens to provide personal information. According to the research firm Gartner Inc., an estimated 57 million adults in the United States had received a phishing e-mail as of May.
ÿ Traditional spam – Some reports have it accounting for as much as 70 percent of all e-mail traffic in the United States. Some estimates have spam costing businesses and consumers as much as $10 billion a year.
George Taulbee, Partner, Alston & Bird, Head of Charlotte’s Intellectual Property Transactional Practice explained to me that although this crack down on online crime is good it is ONLY the tip of the ice berg.
George explained that the “bad” guys are always going to be one step ahead of the law. Even so, defeating phishing, spam and other online crimes takes a three progonged effort – end user awareness and vigilance, legislation , and technology barriers (such as anti-spam programs).