Sunday, November 9, 2008

Global Crime Case: Cybercrime and Counterfeiting - - 01 Nov 2008

Much of the modern organized crimes are very similar to the old. The most significant transformation from the streets to cyberspace has enlarged the territory of individuals and organized groups. Enabled by the Internet, criminals can operate in cyberspace where less governance, a transnational stage, and a multitude of transactions to monitor complicate surveillance and enforcement. From counterfeiting drugs and software to identity theft and credit- card fraud, illegal transactions are increasingly infiltrating legitimate businesses where counterfeited goods and money laundering are buried in the billions of legitimate computer transactions made daily around the globe.

Counterfeited products are rising through global distribution via Internet sites. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of the medicines sold online are counterfeit.

The expanse of international criminal activity has been followed with an increase in prosecution through cooperating international law enforcement agencies willing to join the fight against globalized crime.

The following sampling of the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutions in 2007 and 2008 shows that crimes that were once national or regional now commonly cross borders and have a transnational impact on businesses and victims.

* Members of an international organized crime group operating a "phishing" scheme in the United States, Canada, Pakistan, Portugal, and Romania obtained private information for credit-card fraud. Among the financial institutions affected were Citibank, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, Comerica Bank, Wells Fargo, eBay, and PayPal.

* Hackers were arrested for infiltrating cash register terminals at Dave & Buster's restaurants in the United States to acquire credit-card information, which was resold to others for criminal purposes. The hackers were prosecuted with the cooperation of the Turkish and German governments.

* A Nigerian installed a spyware program on a NASA employee's computer to capture personal data, such as bank account numbers, Social Security number, driver's license information, home address, and passwords to various computer accounts, as well as to intercept private electronic communications.

* A Colombian computer fraud scheme captured data to access bank and brokerage accounts on more than 600 people in the United States through computers located in hotel business centers and Internet lounges around the world. Actual loss from the scheme was estimated at $1.4 million.

* An international enforcement initiative undertaken by the United States and Canada has resulted in more than 400 seizures of counterfeit Cisco network hardware and labels with an estimated retail value of more than $76 million.

* A Boeing engineer stole trade secrets related to aerospace programs, including the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft, and the Delta IV rocket, to sell to the People's Republic of China.

* A New Hampshire Company, Vee Excel Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Inc., was charged with trafficking counterfeit drugs and introducing misbranded drugs into the United States. The company conspired with an Indian corporation to ship counterfeit Cialis tablets into the United States in packages fraudulently identified as containing chlorine tablets.

* A global criminal ring smuggled counterfeit luxury goods into the United States from the People's Republic of China. Valued at more than $100 million, the counterfeit handbags, wallets, purses, and carry-on bags were labeled with such name brands as Nike, Burberry, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Baby Phat. The defendants paid more than $500,000 in bribes to an undercover agent.

* Operation Phony Pharm investigated the illegal sale of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and other controlled substances over the Internet. Raw materials imported from China and manufactured in U.S., Canadian, and Mexican underground laboratories were distributed through a MySpace profile and a Web site. Collaboration with Operation Raw Deal has resulted in the seizure of 56 steroid labs across the United States. The U.S. operation took place in conjunction with enforcement operations in Mexico, Canada, China, Belgium, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Thailand.

By Joan E. Foltz

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