More than 94 per cent of web surfers claim to have been approached by online fraudsters, according to a survey by the US National Consumers League (NCL).
The lobby group said that almost all surfers had been solicited by people touting dubious money-making schemes. The biggest internet fraud is an online version of the notorious 'Nigerian money offer'.
Reports of emailed Nigerian scams, designed to obtain recipients' bank account details by offering to transfer large sums to them for safekeeping, rose by 900 per cent between 2000 and 2001, the NCL claimed.
It said that the schemes were circulated by fax for years, but had proved highly successful online.
The NCL received the most complaints in the following areas:
- Bogus online auctions.
- Lying about merchandise.
- Bogus internet service providers charging for unordered services.
- Credit card or telephone charges for services that were not ordered or were misrepresented as free.
- Work-at-home schemes.
- Bogus loans where consumers are duped into paying up-front charges for loans which fail to materialise.
- Business opportunities or franchises sold on the basis of exaggerated profit estimates.
The lobby group said in a statement that consumers should be wary of all unsolicited approaches.
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