Network News - December 2013

December 2013
Volume 6 | Issue 5
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Happy New Year


As 2013 comes to a close, the Consumer Sentinel Network can reflect on several high points of the year. First, we added new features: a cross-border complaint checkbox, a complaint resolution field and a new page with resources to help you connect to the Criminal Liaison Unit. Second, we overhauled the Do Not Call interface, updated the FTC Complaint Assistant, held the successful Robocall Challenge, and issued the 2013 Sentinel and DNC Data Books. Looking ahead, we’re working on adding more state attorneys general as contributors and logging military complaints about for-profit colleges and schools.

New Data Contributors

The data in Sentinel became more robust with the addition of complaints from: the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Attorneys General of California, Louisiana, and Maine; and the advocacy group Ayuda.

New Feature: Cross-border Complaints

cross border complaint

Interested in obtaining only cross-border complaints? Sentinel now allows you to easily identify complaints where the target and their victims are located in different countries. Go to the Advanced Search’s Cross Border Complaint dropdown menu and select yes to identify international complaints.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

The FTC has named Jan. 13-17, 2014, Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. The Commission will host national and regional events to raise awareness about tax identity theft, and provide people with tips on how to protect themselves and what to do if they become victims. Tax identity theft accounted for more than 43 percent of the Commission’s identity theft complaints in 2012, nearly double the number received in 2011. Check the campaign site to find an event near you, get outreach resources if you want to host an event, along with ideas to spread the word. If you counsel clients or volunteer in the community, take a look at the FTC’s updated Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims. The Guide gives an overview of identity theft and provides sample letters and other resources to help you help them.

Do Not Call Data Book

According to the recently released National Do Not Call Registry Data Book, the National Do Not Call Registry had more than 223 million actively registered phone numbers at the end of Fiscal Year 2013 – up from the 217 million numbers registered at the end of FY 2012. During FY 2013 the number of complaints related to “robocalls” ranged from 147,000 to more than 234,000 per month, while the highest monthly number of overall complaints was about 370,000.

Payment Processor

The FTC has announced a proposed settlement resolving allegations that a payment processor used unfair tactics to maintain scores of merchant accounts for Infusion Media Inc., which perpetrated the “Google Money Tree” work-at-home scheme. Using merchant accounts set up by Process America Inc. and its owners, Infusion Media placed more than $15 million in unauthorized charges on people’s debit and credit card accounts. Payment processors and Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs) enable merchants to charge consumers’ credit cards for products and services. In exchange, payment processors and ISOs get paid for each transaction the merchant processes.

Directory Fraud

At the FTC’s request, a federal judge has temporarily stopped an operation that bilked more than $14 million from small businesses and churches for unwanted listings in online business directories. The FTC seeks to end the illegal practices and make Mohamad Khaled Kaddoura, his associates and 15 companies they ran return money to the victims. The scheme has generated more than 13,000 complaints to the FTC.


2013 by the numbers:

-  nearly 2 million fraud and identity theft complaints

3 million Do Not Call complaints

35 training events for more than 650 law enforcers

65 agencies joined as users of the Network

Double Trouble

A default judgment against Business Recovery Services LLC and a consent judgment against Brian Hessler, its owner, bans them from selling recovery services. The FTC alleged that their operation bilked victims of previous scams by falsely claiming it could help them recover money they lost.

Car Balk

A federal court has ordered Matthew J. Loewen and his companies to pay more than $5.1 million to people they allegedly duped into paying hundreds of dollars each to sell their cars. The defendants falsely claimed to have buyers lined up for sellers’ cars, and that they would provide refunds if the cars weren’t sold. The court also permanently banned the defendants from telemarketing and payment processing.


Sixteen organizations joined the Consumer Sentinel Network in the past month: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and 15 agencies from Nevada, Kansas, California, Ohio, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin, including 10 police or sheriff’s offices.


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