A coalition of Internet and finance firms along with law enforcement agencies was launched on Wednesday in a bid to halt the growing number of online scams that lure consumers to fake Web sites to obtain personal and financial data.
The group called Digital PhishNet is a collaborative operation of technology, banking, financial services and online auction firms with law enforcement to tackle "phishing," a scheme based on use of faked or "spoofed" Web sites.
"Phishing," one of the fastest growing types of fraud, uses e-mails appearing to come from a legitimate company and directs recipients to fake Web sites where they are asked for personal or financial information.
The perpetrators often use the scam to steal money, credit card numbers, passwords or identity information.
Founders of Digital PhishNet include technology firms America Online, Digital River, EarthLink, Lycos, Microsoft Corp, Network Solutions, VeriSign, along with the FBI, Secret Service, US Federal Trade Commission and the US Postal Inspection Service.
"The key to stopping phishers and bringing them to justice is to identify and target them quickly," said Dan Larkin, of the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
"Phishers create and dismantle these phony sites very, very fast, stockpiling credit card numbers, passcodes and other personal financial information over the course of just a couple of days, in order to avoid detection. Digital PhishNet ... facilitates critical data collection between a large number of the targets of these crimes ... and establishes a pipeline directly to law enforcement, in real time, before the phisher has had time to disappear."
Larkin said a number of law enforcement agencies in Europe and Asia cooperate with US authorities in these matters, but that there was no formal affiliation with the new alliance.