FBI steps up pursuit of cybercrime
By Gina Barton
Date: September 24, 2003
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - (KRT) - Barry J. Fibiger of Sheboygan, Wis., came face to face with police on the waterfront in Virginia Beach, Va.
According to a court document quoting law enforcement officials, Fibiger was "soft-spoken, cooperative and polite" when they confronted him beside the ocean in October 2002. He was "very calm and spoke very softly" and didn't struggle when they took him into custody.
Fibiger, 35, told police he'd come to Virginia to kill himself. In a suicide note left behind in Wisconsin, Fibiger had willed his computer to his father. He'd used the Dell 8200 in ways that had gotten him indicted on federal charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and counterfeiting.
The charges against Fibiger were the result of a recent national crackdown on Internet fraud known as "Operation E-Con," initiated by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Over the past three years, consumer fraud cases involving the Internet have increased steadily, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2002, nearly half of the 218,000 fraud complaints received by the FTC were Internet-related.
In Wisconsin, four FBI agents in Milwaukee and six others throughout the state make up a cybercrime squad whose sole purpose is battling online bad guys.
They recently received a grant from the national FBI headquarters to form a cyber task force here, which will consist of members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The task force will allow computer criminals to be investigated and prosecuted more efficiently and is expected to be up and running by the end of the year, said FBI Special Agent Matt Petersen.
"This thing is growing by leaps and bounds. We're constantly recruiting people with computer skills," said FBI Special Agent Michael Johnson, who is in charge of the specialized squad.
Fibiger has pleaded guilty to four federal felonies and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. He faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million.
Federal officials first zeroed in on Fibiger due to a referral from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a national Department of Justice clearinghouse that tracks complaints and refers them to the appropriate authorities.
Prosecutors say he set up several online stores. There, he advertised Palm Pilots, hand-held computers and other electronic equipment. Consumers placed orders and sent payment through the online services PayPal and PayByCheck, but they never received the merchandise, according to court documents
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