38 charged in international phishing scheme

May 19, 2008 8:27:22 AM PDT
Federal authorities have charged 38 people with stealing names, Social Security numbers, credit card data and other personal information from unsuspecting Internet users, the Justice Department said Monday. Indictments unsealed in Los Angeles and New Haven, Conn., say a global crime ring sought to rip off thousands of consumers and hundreds of financial institutions.

The Justice Department announced the busts in two separate but related cases Monday morning during a trip by the deputy attorney general to Romania.

More than half of the people charged are Romanian, although the alleged scam also operated from the United States, Canada, Portugal and Pakistan.

The practice known as phishing typically involves sending fraudulent e-mails that include links directing recipients to fake Web sites where they are asked to input sensitive data. Phishers may also include attachments that, when clicked, secretly install "spyware" that can capture personal information and send it to third parties over the Internet.