Gone to Carolina
Do you ever wonder how fraud varies from place to place? Why what’s big in one community might not have reached another? The FTC wonders these things. Then we go find out what’s going on – like we did last week in North Carolina, where the question was: what are the consumer protection issues facing immigrant communities there?
The answer was, unfortunately, a list that is long and varied – but that news was delivered by a group of advocates and attorneys who are working hard to protect immigrants from fraud. Here’s a sampling of the issues – and the advocates’ success:
- Based on a referral from the North Carolina Justice Center, the US Attorney’s office was able to put away someone posing as an immigration officer. The scammer got a 57-month sentence, according to Assistant US Attorney Sebastian Kielmanovich.
- Immigrant communities around the state see tax preparation scams, notario fraud, shipping scams, pyramid schemes, lottery scams, and prize promotions – all after peoples’ money and/or personal information.
- Abusive debt collection practices continue to be an issue, according to Carlene McNulty of the North Carolina Justice Center. Many of the problems start with the sale of expensive, bogus, or just plain bad products, all targeted at the immigrant community – things like water purifiers, English language courses, or pots and pans. Sellers lure immigrants into financing these products – and, once the products never show up, or the buyers find out they’re junk, they stop making payments. And then the harassing and threatening calls begin.
- Delvin Davis, from the Center for Responsible Lending, discussed their recent report which shows that African-Americans and Latinos shop for credit, but often wind up with more expensive loans, anyway – in part because of dealer mark-ups and add-ons.
There’s even more – including really bad practices in the sale of mobile homes. But we wonder: if you’re part of an immigrant community, what are you seeing? We’d really like to know.