Computer Crime Research Center


John Ashcroft's Remarks on Operation Web Snare

Date: September 08, 2004
Source: United States Department of Justice

Every day, more than half a billion people around the world log on to the Internet to buy and sell goods, to exchange ideas, and to communicate promising opportunities and innovative solutions.

While billions of dollars course across the Internet each day, a small group of predators have chosen to make cyberspace a place for crime and fraud. America's justice community is dedicated to stopping economic crimes before they spread through the online community.

As part of this effort, today I am announcing Operation Web Snare.

Operation Web Snare is the largest and most successful collaborative law-enforcement operation ever conducted to prosecute online fraud, stop identity theft, and prevent other computer-related crimes.

Since its initiation on June 1 of this year, Operation Web Snare has been extraordinarily productive. It has yielded more than 160 investigations in which more than 150,000 victims lost more than $215 million.

As a result of this operation, there were:
More than 350 subjects of investigation;
103 arrests and 53 convictions;
117 criminal complaints, indictments, and informations; and
The execution of more than 140 search-and-seizure warrants.

The success of Operation Web Snare is due largely to the concerted efforts of numerous law-enforcement partners. Web Snare received aid and cooperation from:
36 United States Attorneys' Offices,
the Criminal Division of the Justice Department,
37 of the 56 FBI field divisions,
13 of the 18 Postal Inspection Service field divisions,
the Federal Trade Commission,
the United States Secret Service, and
the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The cases brought in this operation span many of the most significant forms of computer-related crime:
Major online-fraud schemes, some defrauding tens of thousands of victims;
Online identity theft, such as "phishing"- the soliciting of Internet users for their personal and financial data, using e-mails and websites falsely representing that they are from legitimate banks and companies;
Computer hacking; and
Intellectual property crimes such as selling counterfeit software.

Operation Web Snare also shows that America's justice community is seeking to anticipate, outthink, and adapt to new trends in Internet crime.

Today, I am sending a memorandum to all United States Attorneys' Offices and other component heads at the Justice Department, asking them to familiarize themselves with the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, signed into law by President Bush on July 15. The Act prescribes stiff prison terms for those who use identity theft to commit other crimes. I have directed the Department to make full use of the Act's provisions in any appropriate investigation or prosecution involving identity theft, including fraud, organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism-related matters.

Last year alone, nearly 10 million Americans had their identities stolen. Identity theft costs the nation's businesses nearly $50 billion a year in fraudulent transactions and often involves coordinated criminal conduct.
As a result of Operation Web Snare, a federal grand jury in Kansas City returned an indictment charging five individuals with conspiracy to commit identity theft, access-device fraud, and unlawful access of a protected computer. According to the indictment Ganiyat Ishola stole several pages from an employee roster with the Social Security numbers of her coworkers. Ishola gave the information to her boyfriend Soji Olowokandi. That information was then taken to Chicago where it was used by several members of the alleged conspiracy to apply for credit cards.

In Operation Web Snare, we also saw firsthand the increased use of the Internet to damage rival businesses and communicate threats for commercial advantage.
In Los Angeles, the CEO of a communications company and five other individuals were charged yesterday for allegedly using "denial of service" attacks against their online competitors in order to reap commercial advantage. According to the charges filed yesterday, the CEO and a business partner allegedly hired and used computer hackers in Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio, and the United Kingdom to attack the websites of multiple competitors. The hackers' tactics allegedly included targeting the victims' websites and an Internet service provider. These attacks reportedly cost the competitors more than $2 million in lost revenue and associated costs. In addition to disrupting the Internet service provider, the attack also disrupted the websites of the United States Department of Homeland Security and Internet retailer

A number of the cases in Operation Web Snare reflect the continuing internationalization of Internet fraud and other online economic crimes. For example:
In June 2004, a Ukrainian national was extradited from Cyprus to face a 40-count indictment, returned in the Northern District of California, charging him with credit-card trafficking and wire fraud. According to the indictment, the Ukrainian allegedly used Internet chat rooms to traffic in credit card information belonging to thousands of individuals that had been illegally obtained from sources around the world, including credit card processors and merchants.

Many of our successes in Operation Web Snare would not have been possible without the enhanced cooperation among U.S. and foreign law-enforcement authorities. For example:
Ongoing cooperation between the FBI and the Romanian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Antidrug, has continued to pay dividends. On July 14, the Romanian Directorate arrested four individuals connected with a fraudulent online-auction scheme operating from Romania. The scheme allegedly involved targeting a small number of U.S. residents for fraudulent offers of expensive electronic goods for sale and then collecting payments by wire transfer.
In response to the rising tide of Internet crime emanating from Nigeria and other West African nations, the President of Nigeria in 2002 established the Economic and Financial Crime Commission. To further strengthen our international cooperation, the FBI has assigned an agent to work exclusively with Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission. This coordinated effort is dedicated to rooting out advance-fee schemes-such as the email-based frauds that ask recipients to help the email senders move money out of Africa but require recipients to send their own money or bank-account information first. Thanks to this partnership, I am pleased to say that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission authorities conducted a number of controlled deliveries and arrested a number of subjects as part of Web Snare.

To increase our success in stopping Internet fraud, the Department of Justice has invited two EFCC attorneys from Nigeria to attend upcoming Internet fraud training with our federal prosecutors. Ibrahim Lamorde, the EFCC's Director of Operations, is with us today. I thank you for Nigeria's help and for the Economic and Financial Crime Commission's contributions to Operation Web Snare.

This international cooperation shows just how extensive and dedicated the law enforcement community is in the effort to combat Internet crime around the world. We have a solid track record of success and we are continuing to strengthen our ties with other nations.

I also commend all the state and local law-enforcement agencies that have contributed to this vast and wide-ranging operation. Police and sheriff's deputies from Baltimore to San Jose made arrests and executed warrants in this operation. State and local prosecutors brought criminal charges. And federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors shared information, tactics, and leads.

In particular, the National White Collar Crime Center has played an invaluable role. The Center and the FBI run jointly the Internet Crime Complaint Center. In 2003, the Internet Crime Complaint Center referred more than 71,000 Internet-related fraud complaints to law enforcement. And in the first half this year alone, the Center has already referred to law enforcement more than 42,000 Internet-related fraud complaints. I thank the staff of the Internet Crime Complaint Center for their continuing contributions to this very important effort.

Individuals or companies who want to report Internet-related crime can file online complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at: That is: The Federal Trade Commission also receives online complaints about all types of consumer fraud at:

In addition, the close and continuing cooperation between law enforcement and a number of leading companies and trade associations contributed significantly to the successes of Web Snare.

Finally, I commend two sections of the Justice Department's Criminal Division for their work on Operation Web Snare:
the Fraud Section, which is responsible for the Department's nationwide initiative on Internet fraud prosecutions, and
the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, which is overseeing the Department's prosecutorial efforts against computer-related crimes and intellectual property crimes.

Jana Monroe, Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division, will now provide additional details on Operation Web Snare.
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2005-03-25 06:22:41 - Sir,its still going,and you have yet to... anthony barbaria
2004-09-14 14:57:41 - we are being frauded as we speak.they are... anthony barbaria
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