Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have launched the Think Fraud campaign, a global day of action against mass marketing fraud.

The campaign forms part of a worldwide effort by the International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group to combat advance fee fraud. Mass marketing fraud is the major type of consumer fraud reported to the ACCC, representing 54% of scam reports made to the agency in 2009. The ACCC received more than 20,000 scam reports in 2009, which represents an increase of about 16% when compared with 2008.

Mass marketed fraud uses mass-communications media, including the internet, mass mailings and telephones, to contact, solicit, and obtain money, property, or other items of value from multiple victims in one or more jurisdictions, said ACCC deputy chair, Peter Kell.

“Consumers are tricked into providing smaller amounts of money upfront in order to obtain larger amounts later in the form of prizes or a long lost inheritance. These smaller amounts are usually expenses such as government taxes and/or legal fees.

In Australia, Commonwealth and State and Territory, enforcement agencies are working together to alert consumers to the dangers of advance fee fraud and to think before responding to offers that look too good to be true.

The Working Groups Threat Assessment Report will assist agencies in developing enhanced counter measures to detect, deter and disrupt mass marketed fraudulent activity. The Working Group consists of a number of domestic and international law enforcement agencies, including the ACCC, State and Territory law enforcement agencies, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the UK Office of Fair Trading, Europol and the Nigerian Economic Financial Crime Commission.

To support Think Fraud, the ACCC has commissioned a follow up survey from its 2009 Scam Activity Report to investigate consumers experiences with scams.