FILE: TAB #15, NEW MEDIA, ARTICLE #91
150 ORGANIZATIONS IN 28 COUNTRIES
TARGET NET FRAUD
LARGEST INTERNATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROJECT LAUNCHED
The largest international law enforcement enterprise in history has been formed. It consists of 150 organizations in 28 countries, including seven U.S. federal agencies, 49 state and local consumer protection agencies, including 34 Attorneys General, and 39 Better Business Bureaus. Their mission: Sweep the Internet to target "phony get-rich-quick schemes." Spearheading the massive group is FTC. "It's an amazing and diverse team. Fraud fighters from the U.K. to Uruguay, from Korea to Kansas have collected and forwarded information to the FTC on more than 1,600 suspect sites." So said Jodie Bernstein, Director of FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The massive Internet surveillance project was designated 'GetRichQuick.Con.' It was conducted mostly during the week of February 28, 2000 by groups as diverse as the Hong Kong Consumer Council and the University of Texas Law School. Members eyed the Internet watching for certain offending conduct such as sites offering easy riches.
STEP-BY-STEP EVIDENCE-COLLECTION MANUAL
Enforcers Use Password-Protected Web Site
The massive law enforcement project "relied heavily on the Internet itself," according to an FTC release announcing its formation. Said FTC:
"Partners for the international effort were recruited via e-mail, and a step-by-step manual for conducting the surf and collecting evidence was posted on a password-protected Web site. Upon finding a suspicious promotion, a surf participant located anywhere around the globe could use this Web site to submit information directly into a database administered by the FTC in Washington, D.C. Warning e-mails are now being sent to the targeted sites, with hyperlinks to the partners' consumer and business education materials at www.consumer.gov - a U.S. government Web site developed and hosted by the FTC that contains information for consumers from 140 Federal government Web sites."
"If these bad actors can use this new technology to deceive consumers, we can use it to catch them," Bernstein said. "And we have."
DEVELOP TOOLS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS
"This operation shows state, federal, and international law enforcement can and will fight fraud as the new frontier of the Internet opens up." So said Washington Attorney General and NAAG President Christine Gregoire. "We intend to develop the tools and cooperative agreements needed to help protect consumers."
LAW ENFORCERS WILL KEEP MONITORING SITES
Enforcers Threaten to Shut Down Some Sites
The law enforcers will keep on monitoring the sites to see if they've changed their claims in response to e-mail messages and will undertake a coordinated law enforcement effort to shut down web sites that demonstrate they won't comply with the law.
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FTC Release, March 23, 2000.
April 20, 2000
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