Frequently Asked Questions
What is Internet Fraud Watchdog?
Internet Fraud Watchdog (IFW) is an independent and privately owned agency responsible for the detection of Internet fraud and the protection of clients' brands and reputations.
Who retains IFW?
IFW is retained by a variety of corporations or their legal counsel, governing bodies and committees. IFW does not provide services to the general public.
Who are IFW's typical clients?
IFW clients include sports governing bodies and committees involved in large sporting and entertainment events, companies that trade in branded products, financial services organisations, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and professional service organisations whose reputations are damaged by online scams.
Why engage IFW?
IFW is unique because of its global reach and extensive track record of success with the investigation and prosecution of Internet pirates, website scammers and online fraudsters. The IFW senior management team has over 50 years combined experience tracking down these criminals all over the world.
What is the cost of retaining IFW?
IFW is committed to offering clients an effective solution to their particular problem. Fees are based on our standard monthly schedules and then tailored following an initial assessment of each client.
Why can't the police stop these criminals?
Internet crime is the fastest growing crime in the world and many sophisticated fraudsters have learned how to avoid prosecution by exploiting weaknesses in laws that govern online transactions.
Most law enforcement agencies either don’t have the jurisdiction to investigate, have no powers of arrest because of the transnational nature of internet crime, or have few resources to hunt down these criminals because the crimes are viewed as non-violent and low priority.
IFW works to ensure that law enforcement agencies are provided with the correct evidence to commence proper prosecutions within their relevant jurisdictions.
How does IFW compliment local police and law enforcement?
IFW uses sophisticated software and complex investigation techniques, which involves painstakingly tracking websites, website owners, ISPs and domain registrars. We monitor the Internet and work exclusively for our clients on a 24/7 basis identifying suspect websites and reporting the findings to our clients, along with recommendations for further action and/or legal proceedings.
Why do police refer customers to their credit card companies?
Law enforcement agencies have a history of referring complaints to the credit card processor and often refuse to take any action because they do not recognise that a criminal offence has occurred during the online transaction. When presented with proper evidence of fraud, police will often be happy to receive a complaint.
Why can’t Trading Standards stop Internet fraud?
Trading Standards, consumer affairs departments and similar government agencies require a significant amount of proof of an online scam before they will commence their own investigation or action. Even then, there are many cases where Trading Standards have failed to take appropriate action.
For example, the UK Trading Standards and UK Metropolitan Police were told of the pending 2008 Beijing Olympic ticket scam but failed to act because no offences had been yet committed. Law enforcement is reactive in most cases whereas IFW is proactive and exposes scams before they occur, not after.
What can IFW do that the police can’t?
IFW has implemented sophisticated tracking software and uses proven investigation techniques to track offending websites and individuals operating these websites. Police agencies do not have the international reach or willingness to pursue many offenders unless connected to serious violent crime or terrorism.
What else can IFW do for its clients?
IFW investigators also trace owners of offending websites and work with their ISPs and domain registrars to shut down the sites and/or provide warning notices to the owners that their sites have been flagged. IFW also monitors the internet and works exclusively for its clients on a 24/7 basis identifying suspect websites and reporting the findings to its clients along with recommendations for further civil or criminal action.
The evidence collected by IFW investigators is presented professionally for use in legal proceedings.
How does IFW stop these websites?
Fraudulent activity commences with the registering a domain name. IFW investigators monitor all new domain registrations on a 24/7 basis and flags sites that fit a certain criteria depending on the requirements of clients.
If IFW finds that a particular site may breach a client’s intellectual property or may sell unauthorised products or services, IFW will immediately provide a warning notice to the domain owner to inform them that IFW has identified their domain name as a potential threat to our client. The offender will also be informed that the site will be monitored and legal action may be taken should the site go live.
It is the experience of IFW that many potential fraudsters will cease their website development once exposed.
What happens if a website still goes live?
If the website goes live, IFW will submit a take-down notice to the ISP and inform them that an offending site is breaching our client's intellectual property rights and/or is conducting unlawful business using their servers.
In many cases the ISP will comply and take down the website site. If the website moves to another server, IFW monitoring systems will detect the relocation of the website and again take the appropriate action.
What happens when the offenders simply change servers?
With continual monitoring, potential scammers tend to give up after a few attempts as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to conceal their activities.
IFW also continually monitors major search engines to identify websites that use PPC (Pay per Click) advertising and informs those engines that a potential fraudster is paying for advertising.
IFW also informs credit card processing companies which will review the processing licence of the individual or company operating the website/s.
What happens if the site is still live?
Most Internet scams are not carefully planned or designed and IFW possesses extensive experience in dealing with alternative proven methods of shutting down sites or exposing the activity.
How can IFW win the battle against Internet Fraud?
The major problem that facilitates Internet fraud is the fact that the customer does not know who he or she is dealing with.
Offenders take precautions to remain anonymous and often hire website developers who are extremely skilled in designing professional websites resembling sites that are used by major companies and organisations. In our experience, fraudsters have a habit of working from serviced offices, offshore havens or from home. The persistent fraudster will generally have more than one website.
In some cases IFW investigators have researched and found hundreds of websites all linked to one fraudster, spread across many servers worldwide.
Solving the problem starts with contacting IFW and discussing your particular problem.
What techniques are used to track and identify internet fraudsters?
IFW utilises many proven techniques to initiate investigations and track offenders to any location in the world.
Some techniques include electronic profiling by cyber crime investigators, the use of specialist tracking software, surveillance and trap purchase operations, individual background investigations, tracing of bank accounts, and other confidential methods. IFW then presents the evidence to commence either legal action by the client, prosecution by the police or, in some cases, both.
Are there other companies like IFW?
Yes, there are other companies which carry out investigations into online scams.
However, IFW is unique because of its ability to combine powerful online research with physical investigations in almost any part of the world.
IFW has a skilled electronic team that monitors our clients businesses 24/7 and often calls on the expertise and resources of its offline team.