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Thursday, August 22, 2019

McKenna cracks down on Australian scammers

By Ashley Stinnett | Aug 6, 2009

Rob McKenna (R)

SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said officials from his office are willing to travel more than 8,000 miles to catch a con artist.

McKenna said he believes two Australian residents, Leanne Rito Vassallo and Aaron David Smith, became millionaires by ripping off customers using multiple aliases online to sell products.

McKenna ordered his Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit to launch an investigation, teaming up with officials from Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission, a statement said.

McKenna filed a civil lawsuit in King County Superior Court, accusing the defendants of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act.

The complaint alleges the defendants created Web sites that showcased fictional testimonials of individuals being cured by "miracle drugs," which in reality were bogus, McKenna said.

The investigation revealed the so called "cures" were actually e-books that contained instructions on what kinds of "miracle drugs" to take.

As many as 200 Washington consumers paid anywhere from $16.97 to $24.47 in order to download the books, McKenna said.

Even though the Washington Attorney General's office has the authority to take action under civil law, only Australian authorities can file criminal charges, he said.

The injunctions filed required the defendants to take down the Web sites and to stop all business practices that are in violation of the state's laws.

"Scammers who hide behind foreign borders aren't out of justice's reach," McKenna said. "This case is proof that we're willing to go the extra mile - or in this case, nearly 8,000 miles - to protect consumers."

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