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Another one bites the dust (22/2/2003)
I don't like to gloat about companies and web sites that disappear, but I have to make an exception sometimes. When I did my regular link check this week I found that the execrable SkyBiz no longer has a site. This was a totally fraudulent pyramid scheme (I know, all pyramid schemes are fraudulent, but this was just a little more blatant than usual) which involved people selling web sites. Why anyone would want to pay $100 for what they could get from Tripod or Geocities for nothing was always a mystery, but I knew several people who were tempted by this scam. Some actually outlaid money, some tried to make money by selling more sites, and some even discredited their businesses by putting up commercial sites under the domain. The last I heard, the crooks who set up the scam were ordered by a court to pay back all the money they had stolen. If you ever think that the people at the top of a pyramid scheme might set up these scams so that those below them can get rich, remember that the people who created SkyBiz collected $172 million in the first year. Better than robbing banks, if you don't get caught.
On May 12, 2005, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued the following media release:
Australians eligible for $20 million Skybiz refund
Around 156,000 Australian Skybiz.com consumers may be able to reclaim some money they spent on the internet pyramid scheme from a US$20 million settlement fund administered by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
"Many consumers believed the scheme was a legitimate business", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.
"The FTC has secured US$20 million for consumer redress following legal action against Skybiz.Com Inc in the United States.
"Consumers in Japan, United States, Australia, Canada and United Kingdom are among the thousands of consumers worldwide affected by the Skybiz scam".
Mr Samuel said consumer protection agencies from the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN*) were working together to inform consumers in their country about the Skybiz redress fund.
"Consumers who joined the Skybiz scam can make a claim by submitting an online claim form at the Skybiz redress fund website at www.skybiz-redress.com. To make a claim a consumer needs the website name purchased from Skybiz.com, original email address or the telephone number and city submitted to Skybiz.com.
"The closing date for the redress fund has been extended indefinitely to give consumers worldwide further opportunity to lodge a claim.
"The FTC redress fund is in addition to Federal Court orders the ACCC obtained in Australia in September 2002 against Skybiz.Com Inc and an individual participant in the pyramid scheme for contravening the pyramid selling and consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974".
Release # MR 115/05
Issued: 12th May 2005
* Current member countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, EU, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, OECD, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA. For more details visit the ICPEN website www.icpen.org.