Electronic transfers

Report: How crooks scam communities of color

* The latest Federal Trade Commission report shows how consumer fraud affects communities of color in the United States.

While Latino consumers are frequently the victims of scams by impostors, African Americans report fraud primarily in debt collection through credit bureaus, while Asian Americans are tricked with fake products. health. In all ethnic communities, scams through used car sales and lending agencies have targeted people with financial difficulties.

“Since 2016, we have put in place 25 law enforcement actions where we could identify behaviors that specifically target or affect communities of color disproportionately,” said Monica Vaca, Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Protection of the Federal Trade Commission consumers.

In one year, the federal agency establishes an average of 100 cases affecting thousands of victims.

“These are found in a wide range of industries: car buying, for-profit colleges, prepaid cards, government impersonators, lucrative opportunities, and student debt relief. “

A case brought by the Federal Trade Commission involved a Bronx company for discrimination in selling automobiles to African-American and Latino customers. The general manager instructed sellers to charge these consumers higher financial margins and fees, which resulted in the sale price changing on paperwork without notice, and levying taxes and fees from people in their area. unknowingly.

“As a result of this law enforcement case, we were able to recover $ 1.5 million for the people,” Vaca said.

In a more recent case, the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Arkansas sued the operators of a blessing loom investment program that made false promises to people in financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He told them they would receive returns on investment of up to 800%. The program specifically targeted thousands of African Americans.

“We happen to be a civil law enforcement agency, which means we don’t lock people up, but when we do, we refer the crooks to the criminal authorities,” Vaca added. “But we are recovering the money: 1.66 million people have recovered 160 million dollars [since July 2018]. “

Cash and COVID

Another major concern for the agency is that most Latinos and African Americans use poorly or unprotected payment methods: cash, cryptocurrency, debit cards, or gift cards, which they use for transfers. banking and electronic.

“The way you pay can determine how easy it is to get your money back if you are the victim of fraud,” said Rosario Mendez, lawyer with the Consumer and Business Education Division of the Federal Trade. Commission. “People who live in predominantly white communities have reported paying crooks with credit cards, and they have some protection against fraudulent transactions.”

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Gettyimages (grim reaper-all black) scam The Latino community is targeted by scammers posing as officials of government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, service providers, or job search companies. They all ask for money in exchange for broken promises.

During the pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission identified several health promoters offering bogus cures for COVID-19, advertised specifically to Korean and Vietnamese speaking communities.

“We have also sent hundreds of cease and desist letters, in the United States and abroad, to stop making unsubstantiated claims that the products can treat or prevent COVID-19,” said Mendez, who said disinformation “is extremely difficult” to fight and causes “really substantial damage.”

The authors often target their own community and sometimes act as facilitators to “help” people understand, for example, the tax system and the immigration system. Others are based overseas and have a larger network of people who collect money from their victims in the United States, as in the case of telemarketing fraud from India and Philippines.

“When cases cross international borders, they tend to get more difficult, but they’re not impossible,” Mendez said.

“While we cannot eradicate all scams, what we can do is immunize people in our community against scams, with information,” Vaca said. “Research has shown that when people find out about a specific scam, they are 80% less likely to lose their money. We therefore want to encourage them to share their experiences.

Learn more about how to prevent these scams here.

Government impostors and bogus COVID cures – How crooks scam communities of color is published in collaboration with Ethnic media services.

Edited by Melanie Slone and Fern Siegel

The Report post: How Scammers Scam Communities of Color first appeared on Zenger News.