The arrests followed an ongoing security sweep uncovered multiple victims' losses of over $100 million.

Operation Cyber Sweep is being coordinated nationwide between the US Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, postal inspectors and customs agents.

It is also being supported by state authorities and foreign governments including Ghana, Nigeria and Lithuania.

"Online criminals assume they can conduct their schemes with
impunity," US Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters at a news conference announcing the operation.

"Operation Cyber Sweep is proving them wrong, by piercing the criminals' cloak of anonymity and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law," said Ashcroft, flanked by law enforcement officials.

'Successful operation'

During the course of the ongoing investigations, which began on 1 October, investigators have discovered more than 125,000 victims with estimated losses exceeding $100 million.

Investigators have discovered
more than 125,000 victims

"It is the largest, most successful operation to date," the attorney general stressed. 

The prosecuted cases to date involved identity theft, the online solicitation of private credit card and banking details from unsuspecting victims, fake e-mails that hijacked the logos of well-known financial groups like Fannie Mae and Prudential, and the sale of counterfeit goods.

In one case, Guy Wallman and his wife, Denise, both of whom have been sentenced, pleaded guilty to charges that they had sold counterfeit sports and celebrity memorabilia over the Internet.

Ghana's commitment

Patrick Acheampong, the deputy inspector general of Ghana's
police department, said his government had boosted its cooperation with the FBI in an attempt to counter the rising tide of internet crimes.

"We have seen an increasing number of cases" of identity theft, Acheampong said. "Therefore, the cooperation between the Ghana police and the FBI has been stepped up."

"The government of Ghana is committed" to defeating such crimes, Acheampong stressed.