Two individuals in Switzerland and another two in San Francisco have been arrested for their alleged part in a multi-billion dollar internet banking fraud, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has revealed.
The Paris-based ICC, which monitors banking fraud, said that the criminals used fake bank guarantees to secure fees amounting to about $3.9bn.
According to the ICC's Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB), which carried out investigations with the support of the Cybercrime Unit, the fraudsters had published false European banking guarantees on at least 29 different websites to lure potential clients into investing in projects and finance schemes.
No details of the arrests were provided, but ICC officials said they believe that the suspects involved in the scheme were not its masterminds. The ICC explained that it passes information about scams to the relevant authorities and has informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission about the case.
According to the CCB, the web addresses gave the impression that the scam sites were run by either Euroclear Bank, the international clearing system for the settlement of transactions in securities and Eurobonds, or Bloomberg, the financial information services provider.
The bank guarantees were confirmed to be fraudulent and both Euroclear and Bloomberg were alerted to the intellectual property breaches.
Jon Merrett, assistant director of the CCB, said the group was informed that advance fees of hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid for the issue of these fraudulent guarantees.
"We can monitor the internet for any breaches of a company's intellectual property and work with the relevant bodies to eliminate any fraudulent hyperlinks or websites," he said.
Merrett also pointed out that by shutting down the fraudulent sites in cases like this "we are not only protecting investors from scams, but also helping companies such as Bloomberg to maintain their reputation".
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