Internet fraudster deceives many

Australian scams hundreds by pretending to be an ISP

Disguised as a representative of a well-known Internet Service Provider, a racketeer has allegedly ripped off over 100 customers, tricking them in to handing over cash for services which are normally free.

'Free Internet Forever' deceived consumers into thinking the service represented ISP Globalfreeway. The scam involved offering Internet connection to the ISP -- which is a free service -- and provide ongoing technical support, all for a cost of AU$150 (£57).

According to one source, the company advertised with some legitimate companies across Australia, including Prime TV in Queensland. Prime TV, however, would not confirm details to ZDNet.

Targeting pensioners and inexperienced Internet users, the company promised consumers it would look after all their needs when connecting to the Internet. Once credit cards had been accessed, the company took the money and ran, providing no such service. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) confirmed that it received complaints from over 100 consumers in regard to Free Internet Forever.

"Some weren't able to access the Internet at all, there were other cases in which the customer couldn't contact [the company] as the phone number kept changing. There was no service and backup support as promised," a TIO spokesperson told ZDNet. "Free Internet Forever advertised extensively around Australia, and always used a different number."

According to the TIO, the operator is now under investigation by the Australian Federal Police.

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