FBI agents and local police in Davenport, Iowa, arrested a man they believe responsible for a number of phishing attacks targeting MSN customers.

Law enforcement officials said Jayson Harris, 22, was charged with 75 counts of wire fraud for allegedly stealing credit card numbers and personal information in a phishing scheme targeting Microsoft’s MSN customers.

Harris was released without bond after appearing before a U.S. magistrate judge in Rock Island, Ill., officials said.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes ‘phishing’ schemes and other types of Internet crime very seriously,” Matthew Whitaker, U.S. attorney, said in a statement. “These types of crime present a significant limitation on the efficient use of the Internet.”

The case was originally brought to the FBI after an investigation conducted by Microsoft’s Internet Safety Enforcement team, who tracked down Harris’ alleged activities and forwarded the information to the agency’s office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Microsoft compiled the technical data that led to Harris’ arrest and forwarded the information through the joint industry/law enforcement Digital PhishNet alliance.

According to Tim Cranton, a senior attorney at Microsoft and director of Internet Safety Enforcement programs, the company was able to track down the source of the phishing attacks through a couple of San Francisco-based ISPs and a re-direct service in Austria, which pointed back to the U.S.

Microsoft investigators aren’t always so fortunate, however.

“Many times, more often than not, we end up with a dead end, and we’re not able to kind of get the breakthrough we were able to get in this case,” Cranton said.

The key to the Microsoft’s success rate, he said, is being able to conduct an investigation and assemble data of a phishing attack while it’s still active, so law enforcement can follow up on the data presented.

More here.