WASHINGTON – More than 560 people have been arrested in an international investigation of mass-marketing fraud schemes that have victimized more than 2.8 million people in the United States, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Losses exceeded $1 billion in scams that included bogus lottery, prize and sweepstakes offerings, phony preapproved credit card and card protection deals and invitations to pour money into nonexistent investments, the department said.
The schemes were carried out through telemarketing, mass mailings and the Internet.
The 14-month investigation, dubbed Operation Global Con, has so far resulted in 139 arrests in the United States and another 426 in Canada, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Spain.
Sixty-one people have been convicted in the United States to date.
Last week, Costa Rican and U.S. authorities made arrests in a telephone-based scam in which prospective victims received offers of up to $4.5 million from the Sweepstakes Security Commission and other fictitious organizations. The winners first had to pay "insurance fees." Some victims were contacted again, this time by people pretending to be customs officials who demanded additional payments, the department said.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Federal Trade Commission chairman Deborah Platt Majoras were announcing additional details of the operation later Tuesday at a news conference in Washington.