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Spanish speaking consumers conned out of $2 million

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The FTC has seen some truly abusive phone scams. But, in a case announced today, Centro Natural scored a hat trick. According to the FTC’s complaint, Centro Natural violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, including the rules of the Do Not Call Registry, the FTC Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  

Here’s how Centro Natural conned Spanish-speaking consumers out of $2 million. The FTC’s complaint says that Centro Natural used Spanish-speaking telemarketers to call Latino consumers. Callers claimed to be court officials, government officials, or their lawyers, and told consumers they had to pay their debt of up to $9,000. But the callers offered a way to “settle” the debt: the consumer could buy a box of products costing $350-$500.

If the consumers said no, the callers often threatened them with arrest and immigration investigations. If the consumer hung up, the caller might call back and use profane language. When consumers told the callers to stop calling, the calls kept coming. And when consumers got the boxes of unspecified stuff anyway, some consumers paid out of fear. Pushing products people didn’t want, and collecting debts they didn’t owe: that’s how Centro Natural took an estimated $2 million from Latino consumers.

Today, the FTC announced that it temporarily shut down this scheme, and is asking a federal court to shut down the company and their abusive practices permanently.

Meanwhile, what can you do? Know your rights. Debt collectors have rules they must follow – by law. Learn more about your debt collection rights: read this article or watch this short video.

And if you spot a telemarketer or debt collector breaking the rules, or you suspect someone is trying to collect on bogus debt, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.  Go to or call 1-877-382-4357.

Tagged with: debt collection, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


This has happened to me by Verizon wireless I paid my bill last month over 700 dollars and now they are threatening to suspend my service saying I didn't pay and still owe 756 dollars

Thanks again for your speedy updates

You should have this info available in Spanish.1720

Finally.. and Thank you..

My government should not be speaking in any other language than ENGLISH. Stop catering to illegals, and start prosecuting these telemarketers that spoof their caller id.

what an ignorant comment. I would prefer my government to speak as many languages as possible so that they can SERVE and PROTECT and INFORM ALL of their citizens.

That's one of the many problems of crossing the USA border illegally. Those who do don't get orientation course(s) as do those who immigrate legally. Unfortunately, since our Congress, in its do-nothing habit, will not declare an official language in the USA...because, guess what? Merchants want CHEAP labor that can be exploited. Aren't we wonderful?

If your government is speaking to a group of people that clearly don't understand your language what is the purpose of speaking? Stop acting so racist and ignorant. Not everyone who doesn't speak ENGLISH is illegal. BRUTO!! By a Proud Puerto Rican Female

"Stop acting so racist and ignorant. Not everyone who doesn't speak ENGLISH is illegal. BRUTO!! By a Proud Puerto Rican Female"

Well they are not all illegal, that is very true. However, it is ignorant on the behalf of the immigrant to whatever country they choose NOT to become fluent in the primary language of their new homeland. For instance, if I move to Portugal permanently, I would learn Portuguese. Moving to Kiev to live? I'd better learn Russian. Moving to San Juan, PR permanently ? I'd learn Spanish in a hurry.

Immigrants, whether legal or not are holding themselves back by refusing to learn and speak in the native tongue of their new home. It limits your education and job choices and possibilities.

A guy I went to high school with wanted to be a medical doctor - but wanted to go to med school and be a doctor in Sweden. Guess what ? He learned Swedish. Not too shabby for a West Virginia/Florida hillbilly, huh ?

Another example ? Sure.... I have a co-worker that looks/walks/speaks very very middle class white guy Caucasian unaccented English. I had NO idea he was Puerto Rican until he took a month off to go visit family in PR. Geeeeee...I guess he learned English pretty darned well, huh ? He is one of our database analyst gurus and makes about fifty percent more than I do. :) So, yeah, I believe that you must adapt to your mew home if you choose one, NOT force them to adapt to you ! I don't have an issue with "foreigners" - the USA was built by immigrants foreigners ! (Just ask the American Indians!)

I've also got a sister-in-law originally from the Czech Republic. Guess what ? She learned English !!! (I absolutely adore her accent.) She went through the tedious official process and this past year became an official permanent US Citizen. We are VERY proud of her !

Well said! My great-great-grandparents immigrated from Finland. First thing they did was learn English and made damn sure their children did too. Frankly, I love Hispanic culture and learned Spanish in high school and college. Did not realize there was an immigration problem until while in college all my customer service options offered Spanish options and I started seeing Hispanic people (mostly Mexican all over Alabama). Look,'our choices are simple when dealing with our immigration nightmare: 1) be brutal, round up all illegals, and deport them, and 2) since there is no way we could ever do that now with the millions who have flooded into our country, we first Secure The Damn Border, and start a sound process for legalizing those who our here by registering, and doesn't my criminal background checks to weed out as many bad guys as possible. Ignoring the issue won't help and most of these immigrants are fleeing the drug lords and murderers in Mexico to try to build a better life for their children. Can you blame them? I can't and would probably do the same. Most are already employed. America has just been addicted to that cheap labor, which has fueled this mess. Let's let them start paying income tax like the rest of us. Or maybe make them probationary citizens for x number of years - during which time they must learn English - and if they commit no crimes, and fulfill all requirements, then they can stay as full citizens. Nothing can be done, though, until we first stop the tide and secure the border! That should have been done years ago!

Why aren't these people being prosecuted criminally?

SCAM: Ignore calls from 305/454-2199 No Miami, Comcast Landline a person named Steve Martin, Spanish speaking (very hard to understand him on the message machine), regarding some US Treasury need immediate action, otherwise it will be a Federal Criminal offence!!! This caller has called several times today....I did not pick up, only listened to the messages.

How will we know what is right and false in this FTC.And what is happening.Please let us know.

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