Federal authorities have rounded up and arrested more than 125 individuals on charges including identity theft and computer intrusion as part of a nationwide crackdown on Internet crime, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday.
The ongoing dragnet, known as Operation Cyber Sweep, is targeting a variety of online economic crimes involving fraud, software piracy and the fencing of stolen goods.
During a press announcement Thursday about the charges involved, federal officials said Allan E. Carlson of Glendale, Calif., was indicted on charges of hacking into computers of unsuspecting users across the country to launch spam e-mail attacks criticizing the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. Carlson, a disgruntled Phillies fan, was also charged with identity theft for illegally using the e-mail address of reporters at Philadelphia newspapers.
In another case, Helen Carr of Akron, Ohio, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess unauthorized access devices, officials said. The indictment said the defendant engaged in "phishing" by sending fake e-mail messages to America Online customers, advising that they must update their credit card/personal information on file with AOL to maintain their accounts.
Officials said in another case, 21-year-old K.C. Smith of Davie, Florida was sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to two felony charges of securities fraud. Smith admitted to using the Internet to promote a fraudulent scheme that promised investors high returns on their "international tax-free" investments in the "Maryland Investment Club," a fictitious enterprise.