ACCC takes legal action against Internet deception

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has lodged proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the proprietor of for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct.

The ACCC claims the proprietor Stephen Henry Wayt is in breach of the fair trading provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Between January and March this year, the ACCC allege sent businesses and organisations throughout Australia a facsimile that stated: "The registration of your Internet is now due. Please check the current company information listed within our database as detailed below and where applicable advise any additions or alterations as necessary. Registration for 12 months $330 inc. GST". The sum, A$330, is equal to US$162.

After receiving complaints, the ACCC has taken legal action against Wayt alleging the fax was likely to mislead or deceive recipients into believing that was responsible for registering Internet domain addresses and that it had dealt with those businesses previously.

The ACCC claims is simply a directory of business names with details of Internet addresses and that the site claimed it had 750,000 listings when it had less than 200.

The ACCC is seeking court orders including declarations that Wayt breached the Act, injunctions to prevent Wayt from making similar representations in the future and to implement a Trade Practices Compliance Program in any future business of which he has managerial control.

Costs are also being sought and the ACCC has advised that has closed down its Web site and all money paid to the company has been refunded to customers.

The first directions hearing in Brisbane is listed for April 12, 2001.

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