An American junk e-mailer is to be sued by the US Federal Trade Commission for fraudulent advertising, in the first action of its kind.
On Wednesday this week (March 3) the FTC asked a federal district court judge to permanently prohibit Internet Business Broadcasting, Inc, from making false promises to tout a business scheme and refund customers of its service.
"Unsolicited commercial e-mail - 'spam' in Internet lingo - is an irritant to consumers. When the spam makes false and misleading claims, it's more than irritating - it's against the law," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC said three months ago that it planned to target Internet selling. Bernstein said laws applied to advertising by e-mail were the same as those for regular postal services.
Internet Business Broadcasting in e-mails and on its Web site had offered a guaranteed return to investors from buying advertising space on Internet sites which they could then sub-let to other buyers.
"In fact, few purchasers achieved the levels of earnings claimed and the defendants did not provide a full refund. Therefore, the claims are false and misleading and violate federal law," read an FTC statement.
In the UK the Office of Fair Trading participated in an international Internet sweep for Internet fraudsters last October. The Department of Trade and Industry also has the power to investigate fraudulent claims made on the Internet, although it has yet to take any organisation to court.
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