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The Minnesota Department of Commerce urged consumers last week to research investment offers and services before making their investments.
The department said the recent lifting of an 80-year old ban on advertising of private offerings has the potential to lead to greater abuse.
"This is a reminder for investors that whether using a new crowdfunding portal or an accredited investor aggregator, it is important to do your due diligence and to understand the risks involved when using an unregulated third party," the department said in a statement released last week.
The department also released an updated list of top threats to investors and small businesses, compiled by the North American Security Administrators Association.
Here are the top investment schemes for 2013, according to the NASAA:
New Investor Threats
New Small Business Threats
Scammers are taking advantage of the government shutdown by telling consumers across the country that they need to obtain new Medicare cards, collect unpaid taxes or fines.
Agencies across the country are warning consumers to beware. The Better Business Bureau in Florida alerted consumers of a scam where a caller claims to work the the IRS and demands that money be sent by the end of the day or risk being arrested.
"The scammers are taking advantage of the fact than the IRS is currently shut down, so consumers cannot verify the legitimacy of the calls and feel threatened," the BBB said.
Fox 4 in Kansas City is reporting that residents there are reporting scammers who have sent e-mails tell them that it's imperative to re-enroll in Medicare because of the shutdown. There is a link that prompts people to view enrollment options, but it's a sinwdle, the station reports.
In Pittsburgh, scammers call saying they are with the FBI. According to local Pittsburgh station WTAE, the caller demands a wire transfer to satisfy the debt.
"The caller also said he couldn't accept a credit card as a form of payment because of the government shut down," the station reported.
Scammers pretending to be agents of utility companies collecting overdue bills are calling consumers across the country, and state officials are warning that the scams "may soon be occurring here in Minnesota."
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission said consumers often turn to caller-ID to check if the call is coming from the utility company, but said in many cases the scammers are "spoofing" calls to appear as if the call originates from the utility company.
In Wisconsin, scammers are targeting the Hispanic community. Madison.com reported in August that state officials received six complaints within a week in the Green Bay area alone.
The Public Utilities Commission said if someone is suspicious of any call threatening to disconnect and demanding payment, you should hang up and call the utility company's customer service representative.
A St. Paul man was charged last week with criminal insurance fraud after authorities said they uncovered an "elaborate" scheme to exploit Minnesota's no-fault insurance laws.
Maurice Culpepper was charged in Ramsey County after an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce revealed Culpepper had created a fictitious clinic that he used to send medical bills to GEICO insurance, the department said this week.
Personal Injury Protection, under Minnesota's no fault laws, require insurance companies to pay a minimum of $20,000 for medical expenses and $20,000 for non-medical expenses, such as lost wages.
According to the complaint, Culpepper was involved in a minor traffic accident in Lakeville in June 2011. A year later, Culpepper contacted GEICO Insurance claiming he had been receiving physical and massage therapy treatments. He submitted billing documents indicating he had received 199 treatments totaling $44,376.
“Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law is in place to ensure all Minnesotans are protected in the event they are injured as a result of an automobile accident,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement. “When the Department of Commerce obtains evidence that individuals have committed criminal fraud for personal gain, the Commerce Fraud Bureau will vigorously investigate those individuals.”
Culpepper also submitted at least seven suspicious insurance claims between 2006 and 2012, the complaint said. John Ristad, the assistant Ramsey County Attorney prosecuting the case, would not give more details on those claims.
If you’ve been in a car wreck in Minnesota, Whistleblower wants to hear about your experience with no-fault insurance. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612.673.4028.
Here is another example of the e-mails that are hitting inboxes as the Affordable Care Act requirements roll out.
This one is not legitimate, as is obvious by the bad grammar. The header should read "you're not covered," though good grammar is hardly a sign of good intentions.
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