WASHINGTON (AFP) - A coalition of Internet and finance firms along
with law enforcement agencies was launched in a bid to halt the
growing number of online scams that lure consumers to fake websites to
obtain personal and financial data.
The group called Digital PhishNet is a collaborative operation of
technology, banking, financial services and online auction firms with
law enforcement to tackle "phishing," a scheme based on use of faked
or "spoofed" websites.
"Phishing," one of the fastest growing types of fraud, uses e-mails
appearing to come from a legitimate company and directs recipients to
fake websites where they are asked for personal or financial
The perpetrators often use the scam to steal money, credit card
numbers, passwords or identity information.
Founders of Digital PhishNet include technology firms America Online,
Digital River, EarthLink, Lycos, Microsoft Corp, Network Solutions,
VeriSign, along with the FBI , Secret Service, US Federal Trade
Commission, and the US Postal Inspection Service.
"The key to stopping phishers and bringing them to justice is to
identify and target them quickly," said Dan Larkin, unit chief at the
FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
"Phishers create and dismantle these phony sites very, very fast,
stockpiling credit card numbers, passcodes and other personal
financial information over the course of just a couple of days, in
order to avoid detection. Digital PhishNet is a powerful response to
this type of online fraud because it facilitates critical data
collection between a large number of the targets of these crimes
... and establishes a pipeline directly to law enforcement, in real
time, before the phisher has had time to disappear back into the
anonymity of cyberspace."
Larkin said a number of law enforcement agencies in Europe and Asia
cooperate with US authorities in these matters, but that there was no
formal affiliation with the new alliance.
Digital PhishNet includes nine of the top 10 US banks and financial
services providers, four of the top five Internet service providers
and five digital commerce and technology companies, according to a
"Phishers are the street muggers of the digital age, using computers
instead of weapons to steal financial information and identities from
innocent people," said Tatiana Platt, senior vice president for
integrity assurance for America Online.
"Just like their street criminal brethren, phishers should be tracked
down, arrested and locked away, and AOL is pleased to work with law
enforcement agencies through Digital PhishNet to help bring them to
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