Department of Justice Seal
Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Operation Web Snare
Washington, D.C.
August 26, 2004-1:30 pm

Good afternoon. Joining me today are:

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:

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:

The cases brought in this operation span many of the most significant forms of computer-related crime:

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.

In Operation Web Snare, we also saw firsthand the increased use of the Internet to damage rival businesses and communicate threats for commercial advantage.

A number of the cases in Operation Web Snare reflect the continuing internationalization of Internet fraud and other online economic crimes. For example:

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:

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:

Jana Monroe, Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division, will now provide additional details on Operation Web Snare.