Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
on Arrests in “Operation Global Con,” International Initiative Targeting Mass-Marketing Fraud

May 23, 2006

Good afternoon.

I am joined by Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, Chief Postal Inspector Lee R. Heath, and Attorney General Francisco Dall’Anese Ruiz of Costa Rica.

Over the past 15 months, United States and foreign law enforcement agencies have targeted international fraudulent mass-marketing schemes in the largest enforcement operation of its kind. The results of Operation Global Con have been dramatic – with 565 arrests, both here and abroad.

We all know the annoyance of phone calls, junk mail, and spam and pop-up ads that bombard us with seemingly incredible financial offers. For millions of Americans, these intrusions have been more than a nuisance.

Operation Global Con targeted international mass-marketing schemes. These criminals used telemarketing, the Internet, and mass mailings, to cheat unsuspecting people through bogus investments, fake lotteries and sweepstakes schemes, phony credit cards, and tax frauds.

In Miami, Florida, for instance, two defendants allegedly duped investors in the United States and Europe for more than $3 million dollars. Investors in Discovery Capital believed it to be legitimate because the defendants would occasionally use funds received from new investors to send out purported interest and dividends. Allegedly, the rest of the money went to fancy cars and million-dollar homes for the defendants.

In the United States alone, law enforcement conducted 96 investigations into this kind of criminal conduct – and arrested nearly 140 people. Along the way, nearly 3 million victims have been defrauded of more than $1 billion dollars.

We’ve succeeded by working together with our international allies – including authorities in Canada, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Spain – to take down even more criminals abroad. Among other supportive countries have been the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Nigeria.

This close cooperation enabled us to develop virtual task forces. Cutting-edge technology enables us to reduce the actual exchange of personnel typical of international task forces. Our virtual task forces with Costa Rica and the Netherlands provide a new model for bringing international con artists to justice.

In such a massive effort, we have many people to thank. From our foreign partners I’d like to thank the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Costa Rica Attorney General’s Office, the Costa Rica Judicial Investigation Organization, the Amsterdam Police, the Dutch Public Prosecutor, the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada, the Phone Busters National Call Center in Canada, and our six joint U.S.-Canadian task forces across Canada.

I’d also like to thank our American partners — the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission, plus the Diplomatic Security Service, Department of Commerce Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, along with 30 U.S. Attorneys Offices and the Criminal and Tax Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Thank you all for your cooperation in this fight for consumers everywhere.