FinCEN name used in scam

In recent weeks, electronic con artists representing themselves as federal officials have used public concern about terrorism to mislead naive e-mail users into divulging personal banking information online, according to Treasury Department officials.

The department issued an alert Feb. 3 to warn that a spam scheme now making the rounds uses the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a Treasury bureau, to intimidate and deceive the public. Known in law enforcement circles as "phishing," the scam involves e-mailing letters that appear to be from FinCEN, even through the official-looking letters are somewhat crude in their imitation. Network officials have the authority to monitor and analyze the bank transactions of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations.

According to Treasury officials, citizens are receiving fraudulent electronic documents labeled "anti-terrorist stop order." They include a warning that recipients must pay a $25,000 fee for an anti-terrorist certificate before they can conduct further banking transactions.

The alert notes that some people unwittingly have fallen for such schemes and let themselves be redirected to fraudulent Web sites. Once there, they are asked to update personal information, including their names, bank account numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

Phishing is a common identity-theft scheme, according to Treasury officials, who said that scammers have recently misrepresented other federal agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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