Network News - November 2013

November 2013
Volume 6 | Issue 4
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New Online Complaint Assistant

screenshot of updated website

The FTC has redesigned its Complaint Assistant, the online tool to help people submit their complaints securely to Sentinel and get FTC education resources in response to their concerns. The smarter layout and enhanced navigation simplifies and speeds the process of filing a complaint.

Training Sessions

Law enforcement personnel from the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FTC, Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service recently attended training sessions on using Sentinel to investigate scams related to the Affordable Care Act. The Sentinel team also led sessions with the Internal Revenue Service and a government delegation from Nigeria.

Calling All Prosecutors

Sentinel now includes information from the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit (CLU). The FTC can share with criminal law enforcement agencies the evidence it gathers for civil law enforcement actions, including bank, wire, mail, and access device frauds, computer crimes, and money laundering. The Sentinel CLU page gives you access to documents from these cases: criminal complaints, indictments, and often, descriptions of agents’ investigative work. Search them by scheme or document type, charge, defendant name, jurisdiction, date, prior criminal cases in your district or circuit, and ongoing schemes. To get there: Click For Criminal Law Enforcement. To learn more about working with CLU, email


In 2012, Sentinel collected more than 62,000 complaints from military consumers.

Medical Discount Scam

The FTC has brought charges against a medical discount scheme that scammed seniors across the country by offering phony discounts on prescription drugs and pretending to be affiliated with Medicare, Social Security, or medical insurance providers. The FTC alleged that AFD Advisors, LLC, and its affiliated companies in the U.S. and Canada, pitched a prescription drug discount card to older consumers. Many victims were led to believe they had to buy the card to continue receiving their Medicare, Social Security, or medical insurance benefits. The defendants convinced people to turn over their bank account numbers and used that information to debit money from their accounts.

The FTC is grateful to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the Centre of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud (Project COLT); Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Oregon Department of Justice; and Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin for their valuable assistance with this matter

Suspect a Health Care Scam?

If you see a headline one day, you can be sure a related scam will follow soon after, right? Perhaps scammers are waiting for the federal Health Insurance Marketplace to be up and running before they start prowling, calling, emailing, sending letters and texts – generally doing what they can to try to get people’s money and personal and financial information. Sentinel has gotten some health care-related complaints to date: here’s what those scams look like – and what you can tell people in your community about them. But these complaints are likely to be more numerous and more robust as the glitches are worked out, the Marketplace becomes fully operational, and people are able to shop for policies.

Note to Users

During the Government shutdown, the Consumer Sentinel Network did not capture or index new records, so users would not have received new search results. The Sentinel team recommends users conduct a manual search of their targets and topics for October 1 – October 16, 2013. Sentinel resumed conducting automatic searches on October 17.

International Cooperation

The FTC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for voluntary cooperation with two Nigerian agencies to increase cooperation and communication in joint efforts to stamp out cross-border fraud. It is the first FTC MOU of this kind to include a foreign criminal enforcement authority. One of the agencies addresses Nigerian consumer complaints through investigations and enforcement; the other has criminal authority to prosecute consumer fraud.


Sentinel welcomes:

  • three federal offices
  • four state agencies in Illinois and Colorado and
  • five police departments in Alabama, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now provides data including complaints about Medicare impostors and identity theft.


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