The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is leading a global initiative to find and eliminate Internet scams.
The 2009 Internet sweep involves regulatory bodies from 42 countries that are part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN). The group will use specific search terms to disrupt online scammers making misleading claims by tipping off the police and public.
The event, which began in 1997, will be led by Australia this year under ICPEN president and acting ACCC chairman, Peter Kell.
During last year's event, the ACCC looked at more than 1500 potential scammer sites, while the event as a whole checked 37,000 sites.
“There’s no doubt it’s a challenge to keep consumers up to date about online scams. They are growing rapidly and there are many thousands on the net,” he said. “However, there are many common features of these sites and scam emails that seek to tempt consumers and we want to make sure the public are alert to the signs of a classic online scam and we put that information out.”
Common phrases to be investigated by the ACCC include, “guaranteed returns”, “easy money” and “miracle cures”, while legitimate sites with incorrect information will be told to change their content. But Kell agreed more could be done by some foreign regulatory agencies to combat the rise of Internet scams and spam.
“One of the challenges in the online environment is that many scams are operated from jurisdictions that either do not have strong law enforcement presences, or are operated in such a way that it can be very difficult to track down the perpetrators,” he said.
“We do discuss dealing with scams with European including Eastern European regulatory bodies, but there’s no doubt some regulatory bodies simply do not have the capacity that we’d like.
“Our experience is yes, there are some areas that tend to generate a lot of these sorts of sites, we’ve found them coming from all over the world and it’s vital we work cooperatively.”
For more information, visit the ACCC’s website.