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The Internet makes marketing fraud easier

Some have said that few types of fraud are as old as marketing fraud. When a product is misrepresented to get sales, it can often constitute fraud. For example, selling sugar pills and claiming they're 100 percent guaranteed to cure a cold or warts or a fever is fraud, but this type of thing has happened forever.

That being said, the Internet makes it easier. With a list of email addresses, thousands of spam messages can be sent out in seconds. Spam can be put on blogs and message boards or spread on social media. Those committing fraud don't need everyone to buy it. Even if the vast majority see through the fraud, the sheer amount of people who can be contacted makes it possible to make some sales.

The anonymity of the Internet also plays a role. If a brick and mortar store blatantly lies to get sales, customers can easily take action. They can file reports, spread the word and even seek financial compensation.

Online, consumers may have these same rights, but it can be harder to get to the source. Someone could simply delete a blog or a social media account. He or she could provide no contact details other than an email address and then refuse to answer to allegations of fraud. It's more difficult for people to know who to go after when they don't know who runs the company -- or the scam -- in the first place.

That's why it's so important for those who have been defrauded on the Internet to know their legal options. The whole thing can grow complicated, but that doesn't mean nothing can be done. Consumers deserve to fight for their rights.

Source: Investopedia, "Marketing Fraud," accessed Feb. 07, 2017

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