Major U.S. crackdown on work-at-home fraud coming?

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced that next Tuesday they will hold a news conference to make public details of “a law enforcement sweep cracking down on job and work-at-home fraud fueled by the economic downturn.”

The media advisory said that the news conference would feature the director of the FTC’s bureau of Consumer Protection David C. Vladeck, an assistant attorney general and the Ohio Attorney General. The advisory listed as “also attending” representatives of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Monster.com and Microsoft.

People who sign on as work-at-home employees from Internet ads (also called “money mules”) often are used as conduits for stolen funds that are transferred from the bank accounts of victim individuals or companies who have been scammed by phishing or spear-phishing. The money mules set up bank accounts into which stolen funds are transferred. They are instructed to keep a portion of the funds and wire the remainder to the scammers, who are generally outside the U.S.

In November, the FBI reported that it had been notified of about $100 million in attempted losses from such scams.

Prominent computer security blogger Brian Krebs ( http://www.krebsonsecurity.com/ ), formerly of the Washington Post, has reported extensively about losses from similar scams from small and medium size businesses in the last few months.

A blog piece he did in January “Top 10 Ways to Get Fired as a Money Mule” is not only a good description of the work-at-home scam, but is very funny as well.

FTC media advisory here.

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