Law Enforcement Agencies Battle Internet Fraud

NEW YORK A collective of law enforcement agencies led by the Federal Trade Commission banded together Thursday to file 45 criminal and civil actions against Internet scammers and deceptive spammers.

Joining the FTC are the Securities and Exchange Commission, three United States Attorneys, four state attorneys general and two state regulatory agencies. In addition to the FTC cases, 11 other federal and state law enforcers filed 37 actions.

According to the FTC, the law enforcement actions represent a wide array of deceptive schemes and illegal scams, including auction fraud, the illegal sale of controlled substances, bogus business opportunities, deceptive moneymaking scams, illegal advance-fee credit card offers and identity theft.

“Today’s Internet is not a lawless environment,” said Howard Beales, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “We have the biggest impact on deceptive spammers and online scammers when law enforcement agencies band together to root out and prosecute fraud.”

The FTC also said that it has joined 17 other consumer protection and law enforcement agencies in an effort to cut down on deceptive spam, or unsolicited e-mail. The initiative calls for organizations to close “open relays.” Open relays allow third parties to disguise the real origin of their e-mails by routing their messages through servers of other organizations. This method lets spammers avoid detection by spam filter systems used by Internet Service Providers to protect customers from unwanted e-mail.