News > Technology
FTC targets Net fraud
February 15, 2000: 10:14 a.m. ET

Agency steps up efforts to rein in cyber con artists on auction sites
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - In an effort to stem mounting complaints concerning Internet auction fraud, the Federal Trade Commission announced it will lead the attack in conjunction with a host of other government agencies.
    In a separate agreement, leading online auctioneer eBay (EBAY: Research, Estimates) pledged to work closely with the FTC and will forward complaints from its membership of 10 million directly to the commission, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
    The FTC said it will work with the Department of Justice, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National Association of Attorneys General and other federal, state and local law enforcement groups.
    The attack on Internet auction fraud was launched this week in tandem with National Consumer Protection Week, and will use consumer education and law enforcement training to go after 'e-con' artists.
    "We don't intend to let a handful of rogues erode consumer confidence in Internet commerce or Internet auctions," Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said.
    The FTC said the number of complaints about Web auction fraud has exploded from 107 in 1997 to 10,700 in 1999, as the popularity of such sites swells. To date, the commission has filed 35 cases for Internet fraud.
    "The Internet has created tremendous opportunities for communications and commercial transactions," said Assistant United States Attorney General Christopher Painter, the computer crimes coordinator in Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, it has also created new opportunities for cyber rip-off artists intent on ensnaring victims in the World Wide Web."
    The FTC has updated its tips for online auction buyers and sellers in a new guide that explains how auctions work, different types of auctions, payment methods and bidding. Consumers also can file a complaint directly at the FTC's Web site.
    "My advice is, first and foremost, do a little research before buying anything by mail, phone or over the Internet," Maryland Attorney General Joe Curran said. "Know who you're dealing with, what their policies are, and pay the safest way, which is usually by credit card." Back to top


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