Net closes on offshore swindlers

Australian consumers swindled by offshore operators could soon be able to recoup some or all of their lost money, as international and Australian authorities work together to counter the proliferation of telemarketing and direct mail fraudsters. The International Marketing Supervision Network will allow countries to prosecute offenders who operate locally even if they are based elsewhere.

Sitesh Bhojani, deputy chairman of ASIC and IMSN president, said that international co-operation has to be the key, as the swindlers ignore borders. At the moment people who are victims of overseas scams have access to only limited redress. The IMSN hopes that uniform policies will be introduced in member countries so that consumers can get monetary redress.

Australia is not “remote” when it comes to online and mail fraud; people here are very accessible by Internet and by mail. According to US figures, someone is cheated on the Internet every 44 seconds and a percentage of these fraud victims are Australian. The Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister, Christine Campbell, said that people should come forward if they've been ripped off so that authorities can follow it up, even if they're embarrassed at having been duped.