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Hundreds Collared For Global Net Scams

Police arrested more than 560 people worldwide in the past 15 months on fraud charges, including sophisticated Internet scams, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced Tuesday.

The international effort, dubbed "Operation Global Con," resulted in 96 investigations in the U.S. alone, and the arrest of 140 for their part in schemes that used telemarketing, the Internet, and junk mail to cheat people using bogus investments, fake lotteries and sweepstakes schemes, phony credit cards, and tax frauds. Nearly 3 million people had been bilked over $1 billion in the schemes.

Technology was at the core of the crack-down. "Cutting-edge technology enables us to reduce the actual exchange of personnel typical of international task forces," Gonzales said in a statement. "Our virtual task forces with Costa Rica and the Netherlands provide a new model for bringing international con artists to justice."

Global Con began in March 2005 and ended with arrests in the U.S., Canada, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Spain. A majority of the arrests took place in Spain.

The bust was the biggest campaign of its kind so far, added federal officials.