The Whistleblower blog was started in 2008. Look for posts by these contributors: James Eli Shiffer, Jane Friedmann, Brandon Stahl, Eric Roper and Alejandra Matos. | Check out the Whistleblower archive.
The Star Tribune's journalists need your help blowing the whistle in Minnesota. Contact us here.
Minnesota may have a large number of residents registered on the National Do Not Call Registry, but that hasn’t stopped the illegal robocalls.
The Federal Trade Commission released its Do Not Call data book Wednesday and found Minnesota had the 8th highest registry enrollment in the country. The state also had 969 complaints per 100,000 residents, about average for the nation.
Last week, Whistleblower reported that the FTC had reached a settlement with the final defendants in a “Rachel from Cardholder Services” robocall scam. Some of you called Whistleblower, saying they were still receiving these calls, often many times a day, but from someone named “Lisa.”
Have you complained about unwanted calls to the government? I want to hear from you. Comment below or you can reach me at 612.673.4028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two more people and four companies have agreed to settle charges in the “Rachel robocall” scheme, the Federal Trade Commission said last week.
The Rachel scam, which used other names as well, called people, often on the do-not call list, to offer lower interest rates on their credit cards.
The six defendants, including Emory Holley, aka Jack Holley and Lisa Miller from Arizona, agreed to pay a partially suspended $11.9 million judgment for charging illegal upfront fees during telemarketing calls in which they falsely claimed they could reduce the interest rate on consumers’ credit cards.
There were 10 total defendants in the Rachel scheme, and four other defendants had already agreed to settled their charges in June. Those four had allegedly opened merchant and bank accounts in their names for processing consumer payments obtained through the calls.
Previously, Whistleblower was on a search for Rachel. Click here for some of our reporting.
An Arizona company was fined $5.2 million for selling worthless services to victims of earlier scams that the company claimed would get their money back, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday.
The FTC fined Business Recovery Services LLC and its owner Brian Hessler, who sold “worthless do-it-yourself kits” for $499 to people who had lost money to work-at-home schemes, the FTC said.
“In effect, this scheme rubbed salt in the wound of people who had already been victimized, targeting them and defrauding them all over again,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.
The $5.2 million fine was stayed so long as Hessler pays $90,000.
Don’t be fooled by ads that sounds too good to be true on sites like Craigslist or Ebay, said Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office in her monthly consumer warning.
Personally, I love Craigslist. Every apartment I have lived in was found on Craigslist, and I bought a pretty cheap Nintendo DS on the site about a month ago.
But I also almost feel for a few scams. About a year ago, I really wanted a Maltese puppy and a woman on Craigslist claimed she was giving one away because she was moving, and her new landlord did not allow pets. All she asked was that I pay the cost of shipping the dog from California to my home in Texas.
She asked that I wire the money to her, and of course, that’s when I grew suspicious, especially since the money was headed to a country in Africa. Thankfully, that’s where our “business” ended.
Swanson warned that is one of the most common ways people get scammed on sites like Craigslist.
“Citizens who are asked to wire or otherwise submit payment to a party in another country who they do not know should exercise great caution, as this is a primary red flag for potential Internet classified scam,” Swanson said in her warning.
Other red flags, according to Swanson:
A bogus kidnapping ring based in California allegedly defrauded at least one Minnesota woman after she was told that her husband had been smuggled into the United States and was told to wire $2,000 for his release, according to court documents unsealed last week.
Four people were indicted and three were arrested in San Diego last week. The charges against Ruth Graciela Raygoza, Maria Del Carmen Pulido Contreras, Adrian Jovan Rocha and Jonathan Rocha says they falsely reported that they were holding a family member and demanded money for the safe release of their relative.
The group received at least five money transfers from people living in Maryland, Virginia and Minnesota.
The Minnesota woman, identified only as E.D. in the complaint, was contacted in August 2012 and told her husband “had been smuggled into the United States.” She was instructed to wire $2,000 to Adrian Rocha.
According to the complaint, Rocha picked up the transfer in the San Diego area and then “traveled to a location near the border in San Ysidro, California and handed money to a conspirator who delivered the money to another conspirator in Mexico.”
The Associated Press reported that scammers mostly targeted immigrants, and dialed random phone numbers to reach them.
"They would just randomly run through a sequence of numbers, like 1 to 100," Daniel Page, assistant special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit in San Diego told the Associated Press. "They're just like your professional telemarketer. They have a script. 'You need to pay this money. If you don't, something's going to happen.'"
|Crime (1)||Employment (1)|
|Whistleblower (439)||Home Improvement (4)|
|Advertising claims (64)||Businesses in hot water (287)|
|Buyer beware (181)||Civil liberties (19)|
|Complaint sagas (109)||Corruption (1)|
|Dangerous products (49)||Free speech (1)|
|Government spends your money (30)||How to blow the whistle (12)|
|Loopholes (10)||Neighborhood nuisances (36)|
|Polling problems (21)||Problems on the job (14)|
|Property problems (44)||Public records (35)|
|Scams (142)||Seniors (39)|
|Whistleblowers (22)||Discrimination (4)|