L.A. lessons

Earlier this week, more than 80 people came together in Los Angeles. Federal, state, and local government agencies were there, along with legal services organizations, the State Bar, and non-profit groups. Our goal? To figure out how we can work together to protect immigrant consumers.

We heard about a lot of scams that target the immigrant community – from identity theft to notario scams, from bogus healers to a whole raft of car-related scams. Scammers targeting immigrants is common across the country – not just in Los Angeles.

From the discussion of these scams, the experts were able to draw some lessons that are true well beyond the borders of California – even where you live:

  • Imposters are everywhere. Pretend government officials. Bogus computer repair people. Fake pharmacists. The list goes on. But, in immigrant communities, there’s a twist. Instead of “pay me money, or else,” people in immigrant communities hear “pay me money, or I’ll have you deported.”
  • Reporting scams is important, but doesn’t happen enough. We heard that the immigrant community is hesitant to report scams to the government. Nonetheless, reporting scams matters. The more law enforcement knows about scams, the more we can do about them.
  • Telling one person makes a difference. Talking to even one person about a scam makes someone less likely to fall for the scam. Getting off the phone, taking some time, and checking with someone you trust can make the difference between being scammed and not.

Finally, Rigo Reyes, Chief of Investigations at the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs, shared a key lesson about the importance of outreach: “Consumers will get information one way or another. The question is: who will give it to them? The scammers are ready to step in if we don’t.”

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

You need to put this information in Spanish, Korean, Chinese and other languages, especially since you are referring to the immigrant community and Los Ange
les.

What a typical waste of our money. How much did the boondoggle cost and do you truly believe:
1) that immigrants need more protection than none immigrants?
2) that you prevented even one scam?

1) Well, immigrants are worse off than non-immigrants.

2) Scams are prevented when they're talked about!

There need to be a governmental agency to overcome these phony operations that pop-up over night.Who is controlling these operations in the cities business communities ?? How are these bus.licenses obtained ??

How very sad that newcomers to our country are being ripped off. Thanks for the effort to try to stop this.

Reporting of scan is so difficult and make most of people just give up!!!
I had a scammer initially contacted via email, imposing as one of big name in Shopper company (I've dealt with in the past), then they mail me the check (for $3000) withdrawn on some legal comapny's Chapter13 Trus account, instructions to conduct "shopper" (which didn't look right), etc. by US Mail (Priority Mail, so I can track it originating location - which didn't match whom they say sending from with metered stamp of a Steel Company).
When I declined to perform the "Shop" they still wanted me to deposit the check and send a cashier's check back to a person in the US address. I check the person's name and he exists... and the address which was a Realtor office only few miles from his home address.
I had all the evidence and the scammer at hand...
I talked with local law enforcement, whom refereed me to AG office, whom refereed me to US Postal Inspection (only recording and email address to send - not even response). Finally ended up with FBI office - only the real person I was able to talk.. The FBI agent was impressed with all the info and process I've done, but they are not going to move unless I lost the money AND more than million dollar case.

So, the scammer hits individuals with few thousand dollars, but individual case is not more than the threshold for investigation... so all the time we report seems to be wasted... and the scammer just goes on to scamming others who are less informed.... oh well....

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 scam, but it’s not a formal complaint. The details in this comment are great for a formal complaint. It's important to submit a complaint because investigators from all over the country access the FTC's complaint database.

Thanks for your response. Yes, as usual reader of FTC articles, I did report to FTC site, too.

I find these FTC reports and recommendations help keep me on top of what is happening in our country - they add to my assurance that people are working to protect us even when I don't always agree.

Check your credit report every so often, it will keep you aware of who maybe using your profile..

You should report any scam you review. Remember the next one one be you.

When in doubt speak up and do not discriminate, just because someone is black,brown Asian or white. It may be the one one person you least expect.

Always keep you passwords to youself, never ever share them. It makes that much each easier for your so call friends to obtain all your information.

it really is a sad situation to see somebody get scamed.

I got scammed by someone for $1740. I barely get by on disability check and it hurt me BAD. I checked the company at Better Business Bureau, and it said they were in business since 1963 with NO complaints. I deposited the check and the bank cleared it. I let it sit in my account for 3 days and figured it would be caught by then. The fourth day, I went to bank and withdrew the money with no problem. I did what I was supposed to do. I filled out the report about the shopping. They sent me a second check and I went to deposit it, and found out the first check was no good after depositing it. It didn't clear. I reported to bank, {THEY should have known it was a scam after the first check, but they didn't). I received a THIRD check and assignment, by then I had found out the first two checks were not good. It was a scam. Now I HAVE TO PAY the bank back in Monthly installments. My check for disability is auto deposit, and I would not have had money for rent, food, utilities, etc. I went to bank and they had me sign a repayment agreement. I was struggling BEFORE this, now I can barely get by and go without prescriptions and other things I need. I was near suicide status before this happened, and it worse now. The assignment was buying 3 money cards and emailing the card number to scammer. Scamming someone who has NO money, just trying to get ahead and I just went farther behind. So watch out for anyone wanting you to do secret shopper assignments. It can literally kill you.

It can be really hard to tell if a check is a forgery and it can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. Under federal law, banks generally must make funds available to you within certain time. However, just because funds are available doesn’t mean the check is good. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. Read the article Fake Checks for more tips on recognizing a fake check scam.

Tina: I am so sorry you got caught in this scam. Please, call your doctor and explain about going without your prescriptions. Sometimes they can give you samples or refer you directly to the med companies. Some of the med companies provide extra help to people on the medicatations they make. Contact your local suicide hotline! It may not seem like it, but there is help out there for you. Utilities will take payment arrangements if you are honest with them. Call your local community action. Ours has a food pantry attached. They make sure NO-ONE goes hungry. Contact your pastor. They are great sources of help. Are you a senior citizen? Call your local council on aging. Truly wonderful people work there! Tina, money is replaceable. You are not. Help is out there, just make the call. Don't let them win.

I posted add in sulekha.com on Feb. 5th 2015 regarding paying guest. Right away I received so many responses. Out of 15 responses 6-7 responses have 201 area code. Three responses with almost same name and numbers. I have room available only for one month.
I replied one of the responder, Prasad Ajeet. According to him, he is from UK and some company is sponsoring him in USA for some project and will pay for first month rent and deposit. Once he was agree with terms and condition, he emailed me that his company will send me check by courier which I will receive tmw 2/19/15. Now today he emailed me and said that by mistake his company add his travel money with my check so once I deposit the check I have to deposit that money in his account so he will able to travel on Sat. 2/20/15. I think this is something fishy.
So I reread all the responses I received, there is so much similarity in those emails. Most of them are traveling from other state or country sponsored by the company from USA who is paying for travel and rent.
I am fortunate that I found out before it happens to me. I may receive the courier tmw and he will call me tmw with his bank account number to deposit money.
I called FBI office, Orange at 714-939-8699, if may be while I am talking to him you want to trace him or once I receive the courier you wanted to track him.
Usually sulekha.com used by mostly Indians. In past my husband was targeted by IRS crime and we lost $2000 dollars.
It really hurt when someone took your hard working money. Please let me know if I can provide any additional info.

I received a call this morning telling me that I am being issued a Government Grant in the amount of $8,000.00 for not being late on my mortgage or filing bankruptcy in the last 6 months. The call came from 202-738-4101. The women knew my first & last name & the city I am living in & state. She then told me to call a Mr. Frank Shimrah @ 202-738-1988. I called that number & it rang about 7 times & I then hung up. I called the number that I had received the call from, but it just has a busy signal. How do I know if this is a legitimate offer?

Its a scam they want u to send tjem $220 at western union they just called me from (202)910-8782 and to call bk to (315)544-1301 Man i spoke to was "Neil Thomas" an arabic man.... No way being racist by the way

Thanks for the reports. It helps me keep me updated on what's happening in the country. But as for the article, always keep your passsword to yourself ONLY.

To know if the site is real or fake,I look for official signs on the site.I have seen emails that were spam ,but I don't know how to send in that email without opening it. If I open it ,will my device be infected with viruses?

Be cautious about opening any attachments or downloading files from emails you receive. Don't open an email attachment — even if it looks like it's from a friend or coworker — unless you are expecting it or you know what it is. You can forward suspicious emails to spam@uce.gov.

Thank you for your efforts, and we hope to cooperate with you in the Middle East

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