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Microsoft has announced plans for legal action against more than 100 online fraudsters in Europe and surrounding regions. The action, part of the software giant's Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative (GPEI), is part of a wider scheme to fight online scams through consumer protection, partnerships and prosecution.

The first 53 legal actions (due to be filed before the end of March) include cases against alleged phishers in Turkey, France, Spain, Morocco, the UK, Germany, Austria, Egypt and Sweden. This will be followed by at least 51 more cases throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, against other suspected fraudsters. There is a planned total of seven UK cases.

The GPEI scheme was announced in a meeting hosted by EuroISPA, the European Internet Services Providers Association, and co-sponsored by Interpol in Brussels on Monday. Microsoft is supplementing its legal push with technology development and efforts to remove bogus websites from the net as soon as they appear. For example, IE7 (the next version of the software giant's web browser) will feature a phishing filter. Microsoft said it has led the take down of 4,744 phishing sites worldwide, and in the US last spring it filed 117 phishing lawsuits.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the cases are the first time the software giant has launched large scale legal action against phishing fraudsters in Europe. ®

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