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U.S., Romania target overseas phishing

After joining Romanian law enforcement in an effort to shut down organized crime on the Internet, Justice Department officials announce charges filed against 38 individuals.

In a joint operation with Romanian authorities on Monday, U.S. Department of Justice officials announced racketeering and other charges against 38 individuals living in the United States and Romania.

In addition, the Justice Department executed nine arrest warrants, while Romanian authorities simultaneously executed several search warrants. Total losses associated with today's arrests and charges, unsealed in California and Connecticut, are said to be in the millions of dollars.

Speaking in Bucharest, Romania, Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip stressed the importance of multinational agencies working together to fight international crime.

Filip said the nine people arrested were charged with sending out spam to lure victims to go to fraudulent, or phishing, Web sites, where they were meant to be tricked into entering personal information such as Social Security and credit card numbers.

Personal data obtained by the phishing ring was harvested by suppliers who, in turn, sent the information to cashiers, who encoded the information onto magnetic strips on the back of credit and debit cards. The cards where then used by runners to withdraw money from various ATMs, with a portion of the total withdrawals wired back to the supplier.