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HIGHWAY ROBBERS ARE LURKING ON THE INFORMATION FREEWAY

SHARE HIGHWAY ROBBERS ARE LURKING ON THE INFORMATION FREEWAY

A wrong turn on the information superhighway could bring Utahns face to face with a new breed of high-tech scam artists who have invaded cyberspace.

The con artists are using on-line services to pitch Ponzi and pyramid schemes, exotic investment opportunities, chain letters and hot-stock tips."Unwary Utah residents who take this wrong turn on the information superhighway will end up getting cleaned out by high-tech schemers," Mark J. Griffin, Division of Securities director, said Thursday morning.

The Utah Division of Securities joined security regulators across the nation Thursday in warning consumers of the dangerous "potholes" appearing on the Internet system.

The state has not received any complaints from consumers who've been fleeced by a superhighway robber. Griffin hopes problems that have surfaced in other states will be warning enough.

Officials in Missouri and New Jersey filed charges Thursday against two questionable services. One service scammed investors with a twist on the classic "how to make big money from your home computer" line.

The division estimates that 24,000 Utah residents subscribe to commercial on-line services such as America Online, Compuserve and Prodigy. A national survey estimates that 5,600 bulletin boards available on such services tout financial services and investment schemes, Griffin said.

Griffin advises Utahns who use Internet to keep these tips in mind:

- Don't expect to get rich quick on the Internet.

- Don't assume that your on-line service polices its investment bulletin boards.

- Don't believe any Internet hot tips on stock purchases.

- Don't post your name, address or telephone number on-line. You'll wind up on a sucker's list and be pitched relentlessly.