Net fraud complaints largely over auctions

Complaints about online auctions comprise nearly half the messages received by the US government's new Internet fraud complaint centre.

          Complaints about online auctions comprise nearly half the messages received by the US government's new Internet fraud complaint centre, a project aimed at collecting and analysing consumer complaints about suspected fraud on the Net.

          The centre has been receiving an average of about 1000 complaints a week since it opened in May as a joint initiative of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center in West Virginia. The centre collects the complaints at its Web site at www.ifccfbi.gov.

          Online auctions were the subject of 48.8% of the complaints received by the centre, an FBI spokesman confirms. Complaints about goods that were not delivered comprised 19.2% of the messages, the spokesman says.

          Other types of complaints made to the centre and their percentage of the total were securities and commodities complaints, 16.9% ; credit card complaints, 4.8%; identity theft, 2.9%; business opportunities, 2.5%; professional services complaints, 1.2%; travel "scams," 0.3%; pyramid schemes, 0.3%; and cheque fraud, 0.1%.

          The goal of the centre is to provide a one-stop shopping approach to identifying Internet fraud, including such issues as online auctions of bogus items and undelivered computer hardware and software that's ordered from a Web site, and referring such matters to the proper agency for prosecution, US Attorney General Janet Reno said in announcing the centre in May.

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