Ohio Attorney General, Craigslist target online scammers - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Ohio Attorney General, Craigslist target online scammers

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COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - In an effort to shed light on rampant online fraud, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced a partnership with craigslist aimed at holding accountable those who try to defraud Ohioans through the popular classified advertising website. Attorney General Cordray and craigslist are optimistic that this partnership will help establish best practices to be also followed by other Internet sites.

"Over the past decade, scammers and predators have migrated criminal activities to the Internet and have scammed consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars," said Cordray. "Our new partnership with craigslist sends a clear message to online scammers - stay away from targeting Ohioans."

At Cordray's request, craigslist has agreed to place a link on its "scams and frauds" page so Ohioans who are scammed, or users who see an Ohio-based scam, can submit a complaint directly to the Ohio Attorney General's office. Through the complaint process, online fraud will be identified and tracked by Cordray's Financial Cyber Crime Unit. The link is now located on craigslist's "about scams" page at www.craigslist.org/about/scams.

"It is our goal to set the standard for effective partnership with law enforcement," said William C. Powell, craigslist's Director of Customer Service and Law Enforcement Relations. "craigslist has always taken pride in its cooperation with law enforcement and we share Attorney General Cordray's desire to make craigslist a hostile place for any scammer and anyone who would misuse its predominately free services. We appreciate Attorney General Cordray's leadership in this area and look forward to a relationship that can serve as a model for law enforcement agencies throughout the country."

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, losses by victims of online fraud nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009, surpassing $550 million. Hundreds of complaints were filed with the Ohio Attorney General's office last year alone.

Earlier this year, Cordray created the Financial Cyber Crime Unit to detect online crimes plaguing Ohioans. The unit is comprised of investigators and attorneys from the Consumer Protection, Computer Crimes and Special Prosecution sections of the Attorney General's office. Cordray approached craigslist as the largest website devoted to classified advertisements after identifying a pattern of complaints in which scammers used Internet sites offering classified advertisements to lure users into offline conversations that turned into scams. "craigslist has been very cooperative with this initiative, which will be an ongoing conversation that protects Ohioans" said Cordray.

For more information on financial scams or to file a consumer complaint, contact Attorney General Cordray's office at http://www.SpeakOutOhio.gov or (800) 282-0515.

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