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Job scams. Affinity fraud. Bogus – and dangerous – dietary supplements. Notario fraud. Government imposter scams.

These are just a few of the issues facing consumers in California’s immigrant community – and they’re the same issues the FTC is seeing nationwide. We knew from our last Fraud Survey that many consumer scams impact Latinos and African-Americans disproportionately. What our data did not tell us is how immigrants fare, so we went straight to the source to try learn about the marketplace in immigrant communities.

Just last month, dozens of attorneys, service providers, consumer advocates, academics and government officials gathered at the UC Berkeley Law School. The discussion was about scams affecting immigrants and, more importantly, how the government, legal services, and other non-profit groups can work together to help protect immigrants from fraud. The event – part of the FTC’s ongoing Legal Services Collaboration – was co-sponsored by the FTC and the East Bay Community Law Center.

Over the course of the day, law enforcers and community-based advocates swapped stories on successful partnerships, noting instances when a legal services advocate identified and reported a nasty fraud and law enforcement agencies took on the case to protect the public. Attendees also noted the value of information flowing the other way – when government has useful information or educational materials but needs community-based organizations to get the information into the hands of people who need it most.

“This was a remarkable coming together of government officials at the federal, state and local levels with consumer advocates, community organizations, students, and others,” said Ted Mermin, senior adviser to the East Bay Community Law Center and lecturer at the law school. “And what we realized was that everyone in the room is working for the same thing: to protect our country’s newest residents from fraud, and to make sure that the marketplace offers immigrants opportunity, not financial calamity.” 

Here are a few takeaways from the day:

  • Notario fraud and affinity fraud are closely linked. Many immigrants trust people in their own community – including local notarios who offer one-stop shops for immigration advice and other kinds of “help.”
  • Immigrants are confronted with aggressive marketing for dangerous dietary supplements, including some containing pharmaceuticals or chemicals with known safety risks.  Janet McDonald of the Food and Drug Administration noted that the FDA is working to keep these products off the market and to inform immigrant consumers of the risks involved.
  • Scams against immigrant consumers are also often crimes. Larry Blazer of the Alameda County DA’s office reminded the crowd that consumer fraud is not just a civil matter – and suggested that victims and their advocates bring these kinds of theft cases to the attention of their DA’s office.

And that last point might be one of the most important points of the day: Please. Report. Scams. All attendees, whether NGO or academic or government, agreed that a victim’s immigration status had no bearing on whether consumer fraud should be permitted.  It shouldn't. Period.

“The consensus in the room was clear,” Mermin said.  “All consumers – all of us – should be protected. No one who is defrauded should have to suffer in silence.”

We at the FTC agree. We want to hear about the scams you’re seeing, and we want to put a stop to them.

Comments

We concur. Regional new vehicle TV advertising (from manufacturers or their approved Dealer Ad Groups) is a hot topic. Two areas: 1) Consistent lease disclosures that can be read AND heard. Small script for less than 5 seconds on screen is not acceptable. 2) Customer savings claims. Combining customer cash and special model discounts (which may be inflated to allow for exaggerated savings). Same as lease. Small script disclaimers buried on screen for less than 5 seconds.

Health Canada has approved a number of Green Coffee extract products for weight loss. Have you voiced your concerns with them? Our government here in Canada seems to ignore actions from the FTC, even though the same or similar products are sold openly here after having gone through NHPD rubber-stamped approval.

Wells Fargo bank created false bank records in my Business Checking Acct(felony)in order to steal $233.10 from my acct(felony)& added
fees for overdrawn acct(felony)& fraudulent use of mails(felony)& wire(felony) as FDIC insured my bus chkg acct(felony)I need to file claim against FDIC now.

i am forwarding an email i sent to myself as a copy of what popped up when i was trying to find a free source to do a criminal background check on someone. it is scary! threatening, viz., assault, to send money or be prosecuted for crimes i have never committed or done anything even in the ballpark of what this web site is accusing!!

i am forwarding an email i sent to myself as a copy of what popped up when i was trying to find a free source to do a criminal background check on someone. it is scary! threatening, viz., assault, to send money or be prosecuted for crimes i have never committed or done anything even in the ballpark of what this web site is accusing!!

I think I have been placed in a scam by a leading organization called Bill Me Later. It is part of Pay Pal. I am a NP and signed for a CEU course.
Crux of the story; I received a bill with no identifying product--just an amount. I called and spoke to a man who told me that 'they did not have to identify the product.' called a consumer line and they told me and paid the bill through my bank. In April I received another bill only double. Called the company and they said they said it was charges. I said no charges bill was paid a month ago. Now today I receive another bill with a threat if I did not now pay 45.00 plus they would charge another 35.00. I am not going to play the game. I have written to the company, the original bill of 14.99 was paid. I have notified my bank because they have my numbers. I do not know what else to do.

Where can we obtain this information in Spanish? Also where can we direct victims from Hispanic Community to file official complaint.

Thank you.

Julie Contreras
LULAC of Lake County

We posted this blog in Spanish too. Find it here. Consumers can file a complaint with the FTC in Spanish online at www.ftc.gov/queja or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP and asking to speak to a counselor in Spanish.

For the past 4 years, I encountered individuals who posed as a federal judge, a fake lawyer, and a licensed attorney who prepared bogus documents, and coached the opposing witnesses to lie before a DC judge in the DC Superior and the DC Court of Appeals. All of these tactics rendered me homeless and broke! I can not get a reputable lawyer to get me restitution! I NEED HELP!!!!

I want to file a complaint against my father's power of attorney as the paper was forged and my fathers rights are being denied.He wants to go back home and the poa is not allowing him to get out to go home because they sold all his things cars house just everything he owns.My father has over $1.5 million in 5 banks and he is being treated unfairly his rights are being violated and I need someone to take a long hard look into this man the (poa) has not filed my fathers tax's because he has stolen my fathers money and got it all mixed up and the poa has filed for guardianship and won the case because of the lawyer and judge are so corrupt I would never have a chance to win the case.I want the F.B.I. to look into this as I know you will find many thefts and wrong doings that this man has been doing since March 2011.Thank you,P.S.the POA name is Donald Warden of Morrision Rd Cambridge,Ohio please look into this Mr.Warden guy as you will see a lot of forgery and thefts against my fathers money.Mr.Warden has stolen several thousands of dollars from my fathers banks and sold all his new cars and us 3 sons wasn't asked if we would like to have anything of my fathers cause they threw it all in the trash,this is so wrong...Thanks

You can file a consumer complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. We appreciate your blog comment because it helps warn other people about this situation, but it’s not a formal complaint. Watch this video to learn more about how to report a scam and why it matters.

Im trying to start a np business but leads of Dmca copyright issues are flagged. I have destroyed and deleted such accusations. Nevertheless those copies if dmca are purchased by myself at retail stores. How can I be accused of such claim when I righteously bought it. Due to loss wages and security issues its a shame that I can't learn and to become educated from the products I own. Without being watched thur all my devices I own. Therefore to note that my business is now in jeopardy and more money have to be spent just to explain to the accusers whats in my possession legall or not. I feel like its my privacy and its not right which is invading my amendments.

MY HOME WAS FORECLOSED ON SOMETIME IN JULY. WE WERE NEVER NOTIFIED OF THE FORECLOSURE. WE ONLY LEFT FOR EMPLOYMENT PURPOSES. WE HAD PUT $80,000 DOWN. I DO NOT BELEIVE WE WOULD HAVE LEFT PUTTING THAT KIND OF MONEY DOWN. OUR MORTGAGE WAS WITH BANK OF AMERICA AND THEN COUNTRYWIDE. THE MORTGAGE OFFICER TOLD US TO "LIE ABOUT WAGES EARNED".I LOVED LIVING IN LAS VEGAS. MY HUSBAND DIED ON NOVEMBER.

18882612173 call me saying they were filing criminal charges on me and tryed to ask for my personal information ,when i refused they hung up

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