Law enforcement authorities in California, Nevada, and North Carolina arrested 33 people yesterday as part of an international crackdown on “phishing,” e-mail scams that trick people into giving personal and financial data to counterfeit Web sites, the Washington Post reports. The FBI’s “Operation Phish Phry” targeted at least 100 people, including 20 in the U.S. who remain at large. Egypt has charged at least 47 unindicted co-conspirators there in connection with the scam, which ran from January 2007 through September. It is the largest group of defendants to face charges in a cybercrime case.
According to a 51-count indictment, the defendants in Egypt used e-mails to lure customers of Wells Fargo and Bank of America to phony bank Web sites rigged to steal victims’ usernames and passwords. The Egyptian defendants then siphoned funds from the victims’ accounts into new accounts opened by the U.S.-based defendants, according to the indictment.. Phishing remains a growing problem, with 49,084 unique phishing Web sites were set up in June, the second largest number in a single month, said the industry’s Anti-Phishing Working Group.