Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

October 31, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Joins Consumer Protection Cops Tackling Internet Fraud

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., joined the Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection organizations from eight countries and 21 states in announcing more than 200 law enforcement actions against online scammers in "Operation Top Ten Dot Cons." The top 10 scams were taken from the FTC's database of more than 285,000 consumer complaints. The list marks the culmination of a year-long enforcement effort targeting these top 10 internet scams:

  • Internet auction fraud
  • Internet access service providers
  • Internet Web site design/promotions - Web cramming
  • Internet information and adult services - credit card cramming
  • Multi-level marketing/pyramid scams
  • Business opportunities and work-at-home scams
  • Travel/vacation fraud
  • Telephone/pay-per-call solicitations (including modem dealers and videotext)
  • Health care claims

"The downside of innovation and technology is that scam artists are provided a new forum with which to victimize consumers," Attorney General Curran said. "We are committed to staying ahead of cyber-criminals and to educating people to be vigilant and internet-savvy consumers."

During the year-long enforcement effort, Curran's Securities Division issued cease and desist orders and a consent order to three companies offering work-at-home business opportunities that made unsubstantiated claims about income and earnings potential.

Participants in "Operation Top Ten Dot Cons" include consumer protection agencies from Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom and the United States. U.S. agencies include the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Cases were brought by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington State.