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Internet Sweep: Spams, Scams and Scams by Spam

Monday 21 February 2005

Internet Sweep: Spams, Scams and Scams by Spam

Scams circulated by spam are the focus of a two day Commerce Commission internet sweep commencing today. The sweep contributes to a month-long international crackdown on spam by more than 20 enforcement agencies, organised by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN).

Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said the Commission’s sweep will focus on scams circulated by spam or originating from spam.

“Spam has become a popular vehicle for distributing and promoting scams,” said Ms Battell. “The Commission will use the sweep to identify scams that originate in New Zealand that are in breach of the Fair Trading Act. Scams in spam that originate overseas will be referred to the appropriate agency.”

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that most spam received in New Zealand comes from overseas, which highlights the value in international co-operation to address the problem.”

The format or style of scams can vary to appeal to all types of people. The aim of scams is to look like the real thing, and to trap people into parting with their money for goods or services that do not exist or do not work.

“Some scams prey on busy people who do not have the time to check details or the fine print carefully. Other scams target those for whom English is a second language, are elderly, too young to understand, or vulnerable in some other way.”

“Whoever the target group is, spam and dodgy websites have now given traditional scams an online presence,” said Ms Battell.

More recently spam has been used to trick consumers and businesses into giving password or PIN details by appearing to come from major banks and other financial institutions. Banks have been swift to take action where they can and banks have posted warnings on their websites.

Background ICPEN is a membership organisation consisting of the consumer protection law enforcement authorities of 23 countries. The organisation conducts annual sweep days, co-ordinated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to target the growing number of fraudulent and deceptive scams emerging on the internet.

ICPEN agencies participating in internet sweep on Spam and Scams
Country Agency
Australia Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Belgium Federal Public Service Economy
Canada Competition Bureau
Denmark The Danish Consumer agency/Consumer Ombudsman
Estonia Consumer Protection Board
Finland Finnish Consumer Agency & Ombudsman
Germany Federation of German Consumer Organisations
Hungary General Inspectorate for Consumer Protection
Ireland Office of Director of Consumer Affairs

Japan Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Consumer Policy Division Quality of Life Bureau, Cabinet Office
Korea Korea Consumer Protection Board
Lithuania National Consumer Rights Protection Council under Ministry of Justice
Mexico Office of the Federal Attorney General for Consumer Protection
New Zealand Commerce Commission
Norway Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman
Poland Office for Competition and Consumer Protection
Portugal Consumer Institute
Slovak Republic Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic
Sweden Swedish Consumer Agency/Consumer Ombudsman
Switzerland State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
UK Office Fair Trading
US Federal Trade Commission


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