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FBI Sees Rise In Online Shopping Scams Using New gTLDs And WHOIS Privacy

The FBI has reported this week it was seeing an increasing number of consumers not receiving items purchased from websites, according to complaints they have received. The websites are offering low prices on items such as gym equipment, small appliances, tools and furniture. And the FBI has found domain names being used are not .com, but rather the fraudulent websites are using new gTLDs like .club and .top.

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US Seizes Three Domains Involved In Illegal Distribution Of Android Apps

Three domain names were seized as part of an enforcement action taken by the FBI to prevent the infringement of copyrighted mobile device apps. It was the first time domains involving mobile phone app marketplaces have been seized.Seizure orders were executed against the three domain names engaged as they were involved in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office announced. The operation was coordinated with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials.The three seized domain names – applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com – are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime.”Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.””Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.”The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee. In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and our international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation.The operation reflects a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Office of International Affairs; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia; the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and six other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Mississippi, the Middle District of Florida, the Western District of Michigan, the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Rhode Island and the Northern District of Texas.The FBI is a full partner at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.The enforcement actions announced today are one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

US And UK Lead International Operation Seizing 36 Domains Engaged in Financial Fraud

US And UK government authorities have seized 36 domain names as a result of Operation Wreaking hAVoC in a day of action Wednesday to target online criminals engaged in financial fraud.The sites, identified by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), FBI and Justice Department and other international law enforcement, as specialising in selling stolen payment card and online bank account details, used e-commerce type platforms known as Automated Vending Carts (AVC’s) allowing criminals to sell large quantities of stolen data quickly and easily. Visitors trying to access these sites are now directed to a screen indicating that the domain has been seized by law enforcement.”This operation is an excellent example of the level of international cooperation being focused on tackling online fraud,” said Lee Miles, Head of Cyber Operations for SOCA. “Our activities have saved business, online retailers and financial institutions potential fraud losses estimated at more than half a billion pounds, and at the same time protected thousands of individuals from the distress caused by being a victim of fraud or identity crime.”SOCA note they have been tracking the development of AVCs and monitoring their use by cyber criminals, who support payment card and online banking fraud on a global scale. Working with the FBI, the BKA in Germany, the KLPD in the Netherlands, the Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Australian Federal Police, and the Romanian National Police, SOCA has recovered over 2.5 million items of compromised personal and financial information over the past 2 years.The websites we are targeting today were commercial outlets for stolen credit card information,” said US Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “By making this information available on the Internet, these websites facilitated fraud on credit card holders around the world. The actions announced today are the result of extraordinary coordination with our international law enforcement partners, and reflect our commitment to use every tool at our disposal to shut down fraudulent, criminal enterprises.”An AVC is a website that functions as an open-ended invitation to any visitor to purchase stolen credit card numbers, the Justice Department explained. AVCs allow a user to buy stolen credit card data over the Web, even using an online “shopping cart,” just like a traditional online retailer. Some AVC sites allow a buyer to select which type of credit card number to purchase, the account’s country of origin, and, in some cases, the state in which the account holder lives. AVCs allow sellers to traffic stolen credit card data without communicating directly with buyers.”Countless lives are thrown into financial turmoil because of these websites,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “With a few simple clicks, thousands of stolen credit card numbers can be bought or sold to fraudsters anywhere in the world. Today’s seizures are part of an ongoing campaign to disrupt this online market regardless of where it operates.””By seizing the websites the criminal underground uses to blatantly sell stolen personal information, Operation Wreaking hAVoC shows that we are committed to protecting individuals online and preventing criminals from using the Internet to line their pockets,” said FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Perkins. “The FBI and our partners around the world are committed to disabling these criminal networks. No single law enforcement agency can fight cyber crime on its own, and the FBI is proud to be a part of such an outstanding effort by all of the participating agencies.”In the US the operation was led by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Sections of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania also assisted in the investigation.The international operation was led by the United Kingdom’s SOCA. The Australian Federal Police (AFP); German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA); United Kingdom’s Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU); Macedonian Ministry of Interior Cyber Crime Unit (MOI); Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs; Romanian Ministry of Interior; and the Dutch High-Tech Crimes Unit (KLPD) provided assistance. Activities conducted by these international law enforcement agencies included arrests of AVC operators and purchasers, additional domain seizures and data seizures.

FBI Seizes Domain Names In Online Gambling Crackdown

The FBI has seized domain names for online gambling websites in what the New York Times has described as “an aggressive attack on Internet gambling.” The charges against the operators of three of the most popular online poker sites by federal prosecutors include fraud and money laundering and saw eleven people charged.According to the Times, “Prosecutors charged that the operators of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker tricked banks into processing billions of dollars in payments from customers in the United States. They said the actions violated a federal law passed in 2006 that prohibits illegal Internet gambling operations from accepting payments.””The online poker operators sought to avoid detection by banks and legal authorities by funneling payments through fictitious online businesses that purported to sell jewelry, golf balls and other items, according to the indictment. It says that when some banks processed the payments, they were unaware of the real nature of the business, but the site operators also bribed banks into accepting the payments.”Further, “experts in gambling law said that the forceful action raises tricky questions about gambling laws and the government’s reach.”The government also is seeking to recover $3 billion from the companies, reported the Los Angeles Times while two of the eleven people charged were arrested in the US. The remaining defendants are abroad with federal agents seeking the assistance of Interpol to capture the remaining defendants.The Times also reported that “ComScore, a company that measures Internet traffic, said that in March, Full Tilt Poker had 2.6 million visitors from the United States, PokerStars had 1.9 million and Absolute Poker had 1.3 million. ComScore also reported that 1.4 million people visited Ultimate Bet, a site that the federal indictment says joined forces last year with Absolute Poker. Those were the nation’s four most popular poker sites, ComScore said.”The tactics used, that is seizing domain names, are the same as those used last year against websites accused of copyright violations. As the Times notes, the tactic may only be temporarily effective as websites can re-establish themselves using a country code domain, for example, and be out the reach of US law enforcement.For more detailed reports on the domain name seizures from which information for the above story was sourced, see:
www.nytimes.com/2011/04/16/technology/16poker.html
www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-poker-busts-20110416,0,308055.story
latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/04/full-tilt-poker-fbi.html