The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is to bring together law enforcement agencies across the globe to crack down on internet crime and email spam.
The Netforce initiative already covers eight US states and four Canadian law enforcement agencies, and the FTC said it plans to expand the initiative to cover the whole of the US over the next year.
A similar plan, the International Marketing Supervision Network, which brings together consumer and trade agencies from 30 countries including the UK, is already run by the FTC.
Co-operation with police in US and Canada has so far allowed the FTC to target auction fraud, pyramid selling schemes, bogus cancer cure sites and a fraudulent web-based CD retailer.
It has already resulted in 63 law enforcement actions against web-based scams, and more than 500 warning letters have been sent out regarding deceptive spam.
As well as initiating the prosecution of illegal internet operations the FTC aims to enforce controls on spam marketing.
Netforce partners tested whether 'remove me' or 'unsubscribe' options in spam were being honoured. The FTC has sent more than 75 letters warning spammers that deceptive 'removal' claims in unsolicited email are illegal.
The FTC maintains a database of unsolicited commercial email forwarded by consumers to the agency at a rate of around 15,000 a day. The database available to Netforce agents has collected more than 10 million unwanted emails since 1998.
According to the FTC, identity theft headed the top 10 consumer fraud complaints last year, representing 42 per cent of the 204,000 complaints received.
Internet auctions were the second largest group, responsible for 10 per cent of complaints.
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