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Friday, 24 March, 2000, 14:09 GMT
US leads internet fraud sweep
internet fraud graphic
Internet fraud is being targeted by an international operation led by the United States.

More than 1,600 suspect websites were highlighted by an initial sweep, involving international agencies across 28 countries.

The sites will be warned to stop or change their claims.

If they are suspected of continuing fraud, they could face investigation.

No breakdown was given of where the sites were located, but the UK Office of Fair Trading said nearly 100 were highlighted by British consumer agencies involved.

Trading standards officers have warned that legislation could be introduced governing their activities.

The US Federal Trade Commission is co-ordinating the project.

The director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Jodie Bernstein, said: "Internet con artists are bad actors without borders.

"We want them to know that the border-less internet marketplace is not a free zone.

"Together with our partners, we are putting get-rich-quick schemes on notice that we're monitoring the web and that we intend to take law enforcement action against those that continue to make fraudulent or deceptive claims."

Worldwide team

The project, GetRichQuick.Con, involves 150 organisations in 28 countries, including seven US federal agencies, 49 state and local consumer protection agencies and 39 Better Business Bureaus.

Team members, operating mostly during the last week of February, checked on bogus work-at-home offers, business opportunity scams, pyramid schemes, illegal lotteries and other sites offering easy money, the FTC said.

When a suspicious promotion was discovered, information and evidence was sent to an FTC-administered database.

The agency is now e-mailing warnings to the targeted sites.

Officials will continue to monitor the sites to see if they have changed their claims in response to the warnings.

If sites refuse to comply, a co-ordinated effort will be mounted to shut them down.

A permanent database is also being set up, collecting information on consumer fraud site operators.

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24 Mar 00 | Business
Get-rich-quick.con crackdown
07 Apr 99 | oldBusiness
Internet scam file
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