The Department of Justice and the Consumer Protection Working Group (CPWG) held a one-day summit on the latest fraud scams and what consumers can do to protect themselves.
Attorney General Eric Holder kicked off the event with a pre-recorded address to the summit. Stuart Delery, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division, and the co-chairs of the CPWG then discussed the division's efforts to combat fraud.
The first panel included Bureau of Consumer Protection Acting Director Charles Harwood. He and other panelists spoke about the increase on complaints involving Jamaican companies regarding lottery scams. He says consumers reported 24 million dollars in losses in 2012 from Jamaican lottery scams.
In a second panel titled "Debt Relief Scams, Phantom Debt Scams, and Unlawful Debt Collection Practices," representatives from the FTC's Division of Financial Practices highlighted ways to recognize legitimate debt service providers and debt relief scams. CFPB Assistant Litigation Deputy Jeffrey Ehrlich said advance fees and faulty guarantees are indicators of such deception.
FDA Senior Operations Manager for Drugs Jeffrey Ebersole joined the third panel and warned about health fraud scams. He pointed out such examples involve chronic serious disease scams like: cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and STD’s. The panelist also stressed that these criminals “feed on the vulnerable public in times of panic.”
The CPWG is part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and aims to protect consumers from devious practices that can cause widespread economic harm.