From the FBI website:
Mass Marketing Fraud
Mass marketing fraud is a general term for frauds which exploit mass-communication media, such as telemarketing, mass mailings, and the Internet. Since the 1930s, mass marketing has been a widely accepted and exercised practice. Advances in telecommunications and financial services technologies have further served to spur growth in mass marketing, both for legitimate business purposes as well as for the perpetration of consumer frauds. They share a common theme: the use of false and/or deceptive representations to induce potential victims to make advance fee-type payments to fraud perpetrators. Although there are no comprehensive statistics on the subject, it is estimated mass marketing frauds victimize millions of Americans each year and generate losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The following is a brief description of some of the key concepts and schemes associated with the mass marketing/advance fee fraud crime problem.
Advance Fee Fraud: This category of fraud encompasses a broad variety of schemes which are designed to induce their victims into remitting upfront payments in exchange for the promise of goods, services, and/or prizes.
The predominantly transnational nature of the mass marketing fraud crime problem presents significant impediments to effective investigation by any single agency or national jurisdiction. Typically, victims will reside in one or more countries, perpetrators will operate from another, and the financial/money services infrastructure of numerous additional countries are utilized for the rapid movement and laundering of funds. For these reasons, the FBI is uniquely positioned to assist in the investigation of these frauds through its network of legal attaché (legat) offices located in over 60 U.S. Embassies around the world. By leveraging its global presence and network of liaison contacts, the FBI has successfully cooperated with other domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies to combat, disrupt, and dismantle international mass marketing fraud groups. The FBI participates in the International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group (IMMFWG), a multi-agency working group established to facilitate the multi-national exchange of information and intelligence, the coordination of cross-border operational matters, and the enhancem