The crimes, which allegedly bilked more than 56,000 customers out of more than $US117 million, were uncovered with the help of the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and "Operation Cyber Loss," a program initiated by the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC), according to an FBI release. The IFCC is the result of a partnership between the FBI and the NW3C and has operated since 8 May. The government organisations worked with a variety of companies such as Microsoft, PaylPal and The Motley Fool to identify and report on violators.
Those charged were involved in Internet fraud schemes including auction fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, credit/debit card fraud, investment fraud and multilevel marketing and Ponzi/Pyramid schemes, the FBI said. Internet fraud is defined as fraud that uses one or more components of the Internet such as Web sites, e-mail or chat rooms, to effect the scheme.
Many of the charges brought Wednesday stemmed from complaints made to the IFCC, the FBI said. The IFCC provides a Web form where users who feel they've been the victims of fraud can file complaints.
The cases required coordination between 28 FBI field offices, the US Postal Service, the US Internal Revenue Service, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and police departments in nine states.