Con artists pretending to be Internet companies

Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 2:43 AM EST

Stealing identities and credit card numbers with bogus e-mail and Web sites that appear to come from legitimate companies is an increasing problem on the Internet, federal officials warned Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission said it had brought its first case against this type of scheme, called "spoofing" or "carding." A 17-year-old California boy accused of posing as America Online agreed to settle federal charges by accepting a lifetime ban on sending junk e-mail and paying a $3,500 fine, the FTC said.

The FBI has received increasing numbers of complaints about this kind of scam, said Keith Lourdeau, a section chief with the bureau's Cyber Division.

"Due in part to this growing scam, we are seeing a rise in identity theft, credit card fraud and other Internet frauds," Lourdeau said at a news conference with officials from the FTC and EarthLink. Officials said they didn't know how many people have been victimized by the scam.

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