MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Today the Justice Department announced the results of what it's calling Operation Global Con. Officials say the 14-month-long investigation of internet and other scam artists yielded hundreds of arrests in several countries.
NPR's Adam Davidson has that story.
ADAM DAVIDSON reporting:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was quick to point out that he can't take all the credit. He has to share it with his counterparts in Canada, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Spain. He says they've all been working hard to arrest con men in this big global operation.
Mr. ALBERTO GONZALEZ (U.S. Attorney General): The results of Operation Global Con have been dramatic with 565 arrests, both here and abroad.
DAVIDSON: At today's press conference, Gonzalez and Federal Trade Commission Chair Deborah Platt Majoras described the kinds of people that have been arrested and prosecuted.
Ms. DEBORAH PLATT MAJORAS (Chair, Federal Trade Commission): Fraudulent telemarketers, spammers and con artists who defy national boundaries, strike from anywhere in the world and prey on our U.S. consumers.
DAVIDSON: The 565 people arrested in Operation Global Con were not part of one huge scam operation. They represent a whole bunch of unaffiliated teams. One based in Venezuela and Guatemala fraudulently offered credit cards for a fee to Spanish-speaking Americans. Another based in Toronto, Canada, sold fake business directory listings. A third in Costa Rica sold fake beverage business opportunities to Americans.
Postmaster General John Potter said that by arresting all these different scam artists, this operation represents a turning point in international crime.
Mr. JOHN POTTER (Postmaster General): Operation Global Con is a reversal of fortune for international swindlers.
DAVIDSON: Audri Lanford runs Scambusters, an anti-scam newsletter. She says that Operation Global Con is being dramatically oversold. 565 arrests are great, she says.
Ms. AUDRI LANFORD (Scambusters): But clearly this is a drop in the bucket in terms of where internet scams are.
DAVIDSON: She says she gets a thousand emails a week from new victims of scams. And the thousand who email her are clearly a tiny fraction of scam victims nation- and worldwide. She says the one thing she hears most often is that scam victims are frustrated by the lack of response from federal authorities.
Ms. LANFORD: It's very discouraging to people when they've been scammed, they report it and literally they never hear a word. Nothing happens.
DAVIDSON: Lanford says that billions of dollars are lost every year to countless tens of thousands of scam artists around the world. The scammers, she says, are winning.
Adam Davidson, NPR News.
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