The U.S. Federal Trade Commission yesterday said a massive multinational effort to scour the Web for get-rich-quick schemes identified more than 1,600 sites suspected of trying to lure people into participating in bogus business propositions.
The FTC's "GetRichQuick.Con" project involved 150 organizations in 28 countries, including affiliate offices of the Better Business Bureau and other consumer protection agencies worldwide, Jodie Bernstein, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, said at a news conference. Bernstein described "GetRichQuick.Con" as the largest-ever international law enforcement project to fight fraud on the Internet.
In their search of the Internet for get-rich-quick scams, employees of the numerous organizations were told to use specific search engines and were given set guidelines for helping them determine whether a site involved illegal tactics to draw in consumers and bilk them of their money. The investigators looked for claims like "make $1 million working from home" and "make $20,000 month" as clues that the sites might be involved in illegal activity.
The government and private fraud fighters conducted the sweep of the Web in a 12-day period that ended earlier this month. The project has since sent notices to the 1,600 sites that were identified, and Bernstein said the FTC and the other law enforcement agencies involved intend to prosecute those that continue to make fraudulent or deceptive claims.