US spam scams slammed

The Office of Fair Trading claims that the United States is responsible for 90 percent of criminally fraudulent spam

Ninety percent of spam that tries to defraud Web users originates in the United States, an international anti-fraud campaign reported this week.

The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which is leading a coordinated "Internet sweep" for people who send spam scams and host fraudulent Web sites, has come up with some alarming results.

"We're taking a snapshot to try and find out who is behind these scams," said Esther Val, deputy head of international enforcement and liaison unit for the OFT. "Not many come from the UK -- we know that already. It's mainly the US and Russia."

The sweep is focused on Web site content and spam scams that contain illegal content, such as fraudulent information or indecent images.

Thirty-two countries are taking part in the sweep. In the UK, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, the Home Office, Ofcom and a range of local authorities are involved in the campaign, dubbed the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network. Representatives are set to meet set to meet in two weeks' time to discuss "further actions" against fraudsters.

Anti-spam campaigner Spamhaus believes that junk mail now accounts for 75 percent of all email. According to the non-profit organisation, 140 of 200 of the world's worst spammers reside in the United States.

In December 2004, Sophos reported that 42 percent of all spam -- not just that which is fraudulent -- came from the US.

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