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Romanian Police Break Up Phishing Ring

Authorities in the southern city of Pitesti have broken up four sophisticated Internet crime rings, police said Saturday.

A total of 62 suspects -- 23 of whom were arrested -- are accused of defrauding 120 foreigners of more than $128,000, after an extensive investigation which was assisted by the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, the police statement said.

During 2004 through 2006, the suspects allegedly imitated the sites of well-known Internet-based companies and obtained the e-mail addresses of their customers. They later contacted the customers and asked them to update their personal information, using the details to create identities and offer nonexistent items for sale.

They would then contact bidders and tell them to pay using online money transfer services.

Some of the suspects also created fake foreign identity documents and traveled abroad to collect money, police said.

The suspects face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of fraud.

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