Three Charged in Operation Cyber Sweep in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev. - Three persons have been charged in federal court in Las Vegas as part of Operation Cyber Sweep, a Department of Justice cybercrime initiative announced last week. Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada and Ellen B. Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Nevada announce that MARK ALLYN KWASEK, a.k.a. Marc A. Ferari and Robert Ricketts, age 38, of Henderson, Nevada, was arrested in Las Vegas on November 21, 2003, and charged with Wire Fraud, Use of Unauthorized Access Devices (Identity Theft), and Use of a Social Security Number of Another, for allegedly using the identities of other persons to obtain merchandise and sell it over the Internet. KWASEK had an initial appearance hearing on November 25, 2003, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert J. Johnston, and was released on a personal recognizance bond pending a preliminary hearing. Also charged locally in Operation Cyber Sweep, are JASON DWIGHT ZEGLIS, age 22, of Belvidere, Illinois, arrested on November 21, 2003, in Normal, Illinois, charged with Access Device Fraud; and SHANNA DANIELS, age 30, of Las Vegas, Nevada, charged with Identity Theft and Use of a Social Security Number of Another. A warrant for arrest was issued for DANIELS, and she has not yet been arrested. The Criminal Complaint against ZEGLIS is sealed. DANIELS is alleged to have stolen the identity of a resident of Orland Park, Illinois, and used that identity to make thousands of dollars of purchases.
Operation Cyber Sweep is a coordinated nationwide enforcement initiative designed to crack down on the leading types of online economic crime. It was coordinated by 34 United States Attorneys' offices nationwide, the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the United States Secret Service, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, together with a variety of state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies. The operation targets a variety of online economic crimes that involved schemes including fraud, software piracy and the fencing of stolen goods. The investigation exposes the ways in which economic crimes are becoming increasingly global and multi-jurisdictional in nature.
Operation Cyber Sweep was launched in response to an increase in the reporting of Internet-related complaints to federal agencies. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) - a joint project of the FBI and the National White-Collar Crime Center - reported that in the first nine months of 2003, it referred 58,392 Internet-related fraud complaints to law enforcement. In contrast, in all of calendar year 2002, the IFCC referred about 48,000 Internet-related fraud complaints to law enforcement. The FTC reported that more than half of the 218,000 fraud complaints it received in 2002 were Internet-related fraud complaints.
Victims of online crime are encouraged to file a complaint online with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, or IFCC. The IFCC is a joint venture of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The IFCC staff reviews complaints, looking for patterns or other indicators of significant criminal activity, and refers investigative packages of complaints to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in a particular city or region. Victims can find the online form at www.ifccfbi.gov. (The Federal Trade Commission also has an online form for complaints about consumer fraud and deception, available through its website, www.ftc.gov. For more information on this initiative and other fraud related matters, please visit the Department's website at www.usdoj.gov
The public is reminded that a Criminal Complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.