FTC: Cross-Border Telemarketing Scams Mount

Cross-border telemarketing fraud will result in an estimated $36.5 million in losses in 2001, the Federal Trade Commission told a congressional panel.

Speaking Friday before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Public Affairs, Hugh Stevenson of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said the phenomenon of cross-border telemarketing fraud appears to be growing. Last year, consumers reported $19.5 million in losses as a result of fraudulent telemarketing schemes based outside the country.

FTC statistics show that about 71 percent of all cross-border telemarketing complaints are made against Canadian companies, Stevenson said. Canada-based scam artists operate primarily out of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, British Columbia, and use a number of schemes, including those involving sweepstakes, advance-fee loans, lotteries and Internet auctions.

“The FTC has developed the ability to move quickly against domestic fraud, halting scams and recovering money,” Stevenson said. “Pursuing those who victimize U.S. consumers from abroad is important as well, both to address the substantial harm foreign telemarketers now cause and to develop an approach to combating fraud in the emerging global marketplace.”

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