Department of Justice Seal
Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Announcement of "Operation Cyber Sweep" Thursday, November 20, 2003

(Please Note: The Attorney General Often Deviates From Prepared Remarks)

The Information Superhighway should be a conduit for communication, information and commerce, not an expressway to crime. It is a top federal law enforcement priority to stop crime on the Internet.

That is why the DOJ is announcing Operation Cyber Sweep, the most productive, coordinated law enforcement operation that law enforcement has ever conducted against online crime.

The nationwide dimension of Operation Cyber Sweep began on October 1 of this year and already has been an unqualified success. Over the past seven weeks, this coordinated criminal investigation has netted:

Although it closely resembles traditional economic crime in many ways, online economic crime has two distinctive features:

Law enforcement faces the challenge of adapting and outthinking Internet criminals and online abusers. So we are upgrading our capacity to make the World Wide Web a safer place by using the combined resources of federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies.

Operation Cyber Sweep is the largest, most successful Internet investigation undertaken by law enforcement to date. It involves the collective efforts of:

These agencies have joined together to conduct Operation Cyber Sweep, a concentrated series of prosecutions and other enforcement actions that have targeted major forms of online economic crime, including:

Our last operation of this type, Operation E-Con, ran from January 1 to May 16, 2003. That operation involved more than 90 investigations, the execution of more than 70 search and seizure warrants, and the charging or conviction of more than 130 individuals. Combined, these online investigations have saved consumers and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

After "Operation E-Con", federal law enforcement recognized the need to secure cooperation from a number of foreign countries in investigating and prosecuting major international Internet fraud schemes.

Over the past six months, I am pleased to say the level of cooperation we have obtained from foreign law enforcement has increased dramatically. As a result of cooperation from the Ghana Police Department, under the leadership of Deputy Inspector General Patrick Acheampong [ACK-ey-pong], we made substantial progress in a number of Internet investigations. We are deeply indebted to the Ghana Police Department for its valuable contributions to Operation Cyber Sweep.

In addition, the FBI Legal Attaché in Lagos, Nigeria, works closely with the newly created Nigerian Economic and Financial Fraud Commission against various international online fraud schemes. As a result of the joint efforts between the FBI and law enforcement officers in Nigeria, the Legal Attaché has to date assisted in the recovery of more than $100,000 in merchandise and $2.1 million in fraudulent cashier's checks.

I emphasize that the significant accomplishments of this operation are due, in large measure, to the contributions of state and local law enforcement. State and local prosecutors from across the nation and police departments from Lewiston, Maine to Kent, Washington, played an integral part in Operation Cyber Sweep.

In addition, the National White Collar Crime Center proved yet again to be a valued and effective partner with the FBI in operating the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. In the first nine months of 2003, the IFCC has referred more than 58,000 Internet-related fraud complaints to law enforcement. Glen Gainer, who is the Chairman of the National White Collar Crime Center, is here with us, and I thank him and his staff for their continuing contributions.

If citizens or companies believe they have been the victims of on-line fraud, complaint forms can be found on-line at: That is: The Federal Trade Commission also has forms at:

I am also pleased to note that a number of major corporations and trade associations have been strong supporters of Operation Cyber Sweep. Our success in combating cyber-crime depends on the alliance between law enforcement and the private sector to share information that identifies and roots out cyber-schemes of all types.

Finally, I want to call attention to the roles played by two Sections of the Department's Criminal Division: the Fraud Section, which oversees the Department's nationwide initiative on Internet fraud prosecutions, and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, which is overseeing the Department's prosecutorial efforts against intellectual property crimes and computer-related crimes.

I turn now to FBI Assistant Director Jana Monroe for her remarks.