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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"A happy hunting ground for fraudsters"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jeff Phillips
"Some of these pages carried hardcore pornography"
 real 28k

Friday, 24 March, 2000, 04:56 GMT
Get-rich-quick.con crackdown
website
Consumer groups scoured the net in a global exercise
Consumer watchdogs have announced a crackdown on dubious internet sites which promise quick profits for unwary investors.

The UK's Office of Fair Trading is sending warning e-mails to the owners of several websites after taking part in a global exercise led by the US Federal Trade Commission to pinpoint questionable get-rich-quick schemes.

A total of nearly 100 potentially misleading sites were uncovered by British consumer agencies, including an undisclosed number based in the UK which could now face direct action by the authorities.

Trading standards officers have sent a written warning that there could be legislation governing their activities, regardless of where the company is based.

Cyber-scams

The consumer groups involved in the exercise each spent three hours scouring the internet for bogus homeworking schemes, business opportunities, lotteries, chain letters and pyramid investment plans - known as cyber-scams.

OFT director general John Bridgeman said: "People should be very wary of claims that large amounts of money can be earned for little or no effort. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."

Among the website claims uncovered by trading standards officers was an offer to make customers into millionaires in return for a "one-time" investment of $25 (about 17).

Another claimed: "The most amazing discovery about creating financial wealth and freedom is simply too easy to believe."

The sites, which were uncovered during a week-long trawl earlier this month by consumer protection agencies across the world, will be monitored during the next eight weeks to see if they change the wording of their claims.

Failure to drop misleading or potentially deceptive claims could result in prosecution by enforcement agencies, an OFT spokeswoman said.

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See also:

08 Apr 99 | Your Money
Internet scam file
22 Jun 99 | Your Money
An old money-making scam
09 May 99 | Your Money
Fighting online fraud
12 Aug 98 | Your Money
Internet scams rob investors of $100m
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