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International Search of the Internet to Reveal Fraud

08. September 2003

October 16, 1997 Marketing authorities all over the World are searching the web to reveal illegal and unethical marketing procedures. The Danish Consumer Ombudsman is part of the team.

Armed with mouse and modem more than 30 authorities from Australia, Asia, Europe and other countries have held an "International Internet Sweep Day". During the last 24 hours the participants have searched the web systematically. The operation was especially concentrated on schemes which lure consumers with the possibility of getting rich quickly, i.e. pyramid games, chain letters, "money clubs" and the like.

Swindlers hide behind borders

The International Internet Sweep Day is carried out on the initiative of Australia and takes place within the International Marketing Supervision Network (IMSN), which was established some years ago on the initiative of the Consumer Ombudsman and his nordic colleagues.

The background for the International Internet Sweep Day is the problem of ensuring that the rules of the global marketplace are complied with.

The amount of unethical, misleading and other illegal marketing procedures is increasing, and it is often difficult to intervene against the problem. The swindlers can easily "hide" on the Internet - often they direct their marketing towards other countries than the country they operate from. This reduces the possibilities of the target country of stopping the unlawful acts.

The transfrontier nature of new networks and communication systems has given operators new possibilities of getting in contact with consumers and new methods of marketing. "We are trying to put a stop to this, for example by demonstrating that we keep an eye on the Internet market", says the Consumer Ombudsman.

In addition to "get rich quickly" schemes the nordic consumer ombudsmen have also programmed the search engines of the Internet to search for "marketing aimed at children and young people".

The firms which were found during the search of the day were requested to change their marketing methods, so that they are in accordance with the law. The action will be repeated in the near future to check if the firms have complied with the request.

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