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The UK's Office of Fair Trading joined forces with government agencies around the world in a co-ordinated assault upon scammers and spammers this week. The OFT joined its partners in the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and signatories to the anti-spam London Action Plan (LAP) on 21 and 22 February to conduct a sweep targeting internet scams.

The 48-hour crackdown coincided with an ecommerce summit in London this week, the fourth Asia-Europe Meeting conference, which brings together representatives from 25 European Union states and 13 Asian countries.

Spam accounts for over 70 per cent of all email traffic on the internet, up from under half in 2003 and under ten per cent in 2001, according to anti-spam outfit Brightmail. Spam is frequently used in scams. An estimated four in five junk mail messages originate outside the UK, making international co-operation on enforcement essential.

The OFT, the UK government's consumer protection agency, has already worked together on successful joint enforcement actions with its counterparts in the US (against domain name outfit TLD Networks) and Italy (involving a modem hijacking scam). Government ministers want to extend efforts to combat cybercrime more internationally. "We need to build more ties, such as with countries in Latin America and Africa," Mike O'Brien, energy and ecommerce minister, told the FT. ®

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