Feds Warn About Online Scams

ByABC News
October 31, 2000, 11:51 AM

W A S H I N G T O N,  Oct. 31 -- Reminding consumers that they should always beon guard when online, federal regulators announced today aneducation and law enforcement push against the top Internet scams.

Ranging from fraudulent auctions to mystery phone charges, theFederal Trade Commission listed the Top Ten Dot-Cons targetingInternet users.

The FTC has been working with an international coalition thisyear to stamp out Web scams through lawsuits and an onlineeducation campaign.

Its a New World Online

The Internet has changed the way consumers gather information,shop and do business, Jodie Bernstein, the FTCs director ofconsumer protection, said at the kick-off address. Its alsochanged the way law enforcers and consumer protection agencies dobusiness.

The FTC said 251 law enforcement actions had been brought byfederal agencies against online scammers this year, and offereddetails about 18 of them.

In four cases, the FTC alleges that the defendants participatedin online auctions without delivering the goods after payment. Inanother three cases, adult Web sites are accused of chargingcustomer credit cards for services that were never ordered.

In a unique case, the defendants sent $3.50 rebate checks toconsumers. When the checks were cashed, the consumers unwittinglyagreed to allow the defendants to be their Internet serviceprovider. Monthly charges started appearing on the victims phonebills that were difficult to remove.

Very Old Tricks Made New

Regulators warned consumers about Web sites that advertise afree viewer or dialer program to access free adultmaterial. Without the victims knowledge, the program disconnectstheir computer from their Internet provider and makes aninternational call typically to the Caribbean to anotherInternet provider, racking up large toll charges on the victimsphone bill.