Global congress tackles financial and Internet fraud

The growth in Internet use has unleashed a new breed of cyber-space criminals. Financial and high-tech crimes, such as currency counterfeiting, money-laundering, intellectual property crime, payment card fraud, computer virus attacks and cyber-terrorism, are on the rise.

The Global Financial Crime Congress, organized by Interpol and UNODC, took place from 17-20 April 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand. It focused on the latest developments, technologies and strategies used to combat financial crime and to enhance cooperation among law enforcement authorities and the private sector.

"National economies everywhere, and certainly in the developing world, suffer damage caused by the infiltration of criminal proceeds, including the ill-gotten gains from corruption and those funds destined for use in terrorist activities," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa in a message to the Congress.

"Tracing, seizing and confiscating these funds is of the highest priority in order to cut off the lifeblood of the underlying crime, and to plough those assets back into much-needed development."

Currency counterfeiting and money-laundering have the potential to destabilize national economies and threaten global security as they are key ways in which terrorists and other criminals finance their activities and conceal their profits. 

At the Congress, experts from law enforcement, customs, academia, private industry and multilateral organizations learned about training initiatives by UNODC targeting different areas of financial crime. Participants were also briefed on Interpol's Money-Laundering Automated Search System, its latest money-laundering/terrorism financing initiative.

New technologies have opened up many possibilities for cyber-criminals, for example 'phishing', or sending bogus e-mail from seemingly reputable sources such as banks to persuade people to reveal account numbers, PIN codes and credit card details. Interpol is working with software companies, Internet service providers, central banks and other bodies to thwart criminals and protect consumers.