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FBI fights fraud in cyberspace

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The FBI is taking its fight against crime into cyberspace with the launch of the Internet Fraud Council (IFC). Officially launched today in partnership with a number of private sector agencies, the IFC is designed to combat fraud and investigate the growing number of customer complaints from Net users. Although details are still sketchy, USA Today said today that the new fraud-busting outfit will open its doors in late summer. Due to be based in West Virginia, the IFC was created following a personal request from President Clinton. It's mandate is to "devise new ways to fight crimes in cyberspace, from credit card fraud to stock manipulation to get-rich-quick schemes", USA Today said. Although the launch of such a focused organisation is to be welcomed, no one should underestimate the task it faces. Scams, hoaxes, cons and frauds are an everyday part of Internet life. While many would simply become rendered useless if people weren't so gullible and didn't believe they could make £50,000 from doing diddlysquat, the Net has been responsible for some other, more serious, scams. Earlier this month, a man appear before a federal judge in Los Angeles accused of masterminding what is believed to be the biggest credit card scam in history. Kenneth Taves, 47, allegedly "earned" $49.4 million last year before concealing it in an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands. While some of the money was generated from legitimate charges for access to porn sites run by Taves' company, Netfill, how he got the rest of the cash is still a mystery. Last month, respected online information providers Bloomberg found themselves in the middle of a financial scam when a hoaxer went to the trouble of mocking up a fake Bloomberg news story alleging that Pairgain had agreed to be bought by Israel-based ECI Telecom. It was hoped that the stunt would create a run on the stock price for California-based telecomms company, Pairgain Technologies, netting someone a rather dishonest profit. A man is helping police with their enquiries. ®

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