Network News - March 2013

March 2013
Volume 6 | Issue 2
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Sentinel Data Book

Consumer Sentinel Data Book  

In 2012, the FTC logged more than 2 million consumer complaints   – a first in the history of the Consumer Sentinel Network. The top category of complaints? Identity theft. This tidbit is from the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2012, a fascinating analysis of complaints received in Sentinel during the previous calendar year. Want to learn more about the top 10 complaint categories, get national data, and state-by-state accountings of the top complaints? Check out the 2012 Sentinel Data Book.

See Sentinel in Action

The Sentinel team is on a mission to demonstrate the benefits of using Sentinel in your investigations. The team held a training session in January in Washington, D.C., for the Crime Prevention Committee at the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), and will train the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on searching for data about mail fraud scams: deceptive mailings, sweepstakes, lotteries, online auctions, and work-at-home scams. Live webinars are ongoing for all users. The next class is set for Thursday, April 4 from 2pm to 3:15 pm EDT. Contact for details.


In 2012, more than 43% of identity theft victims reported tax or wage-related fraud. 

2012 Sentinel Data Book

Auto Loan Modification

At the request of the FTC, a federal court has banned Hope for Car Owners, LLC, from providing modification services for auto loans – and for any other type of debt – and imposed a default judgment of more than $360,000. The FTC alleged that Hope for Car Owners unlawfully charged car owners hundreds of dollars in up-front fees, and told them to stop paying their auto lenders. That often left them in worse shape than when they began, and increased the risk that their vehicles would be repossessed. Read more.

Read about  auto loan scams and watch the video.

Money Transfers

Would Western Union and Moneygram complaints be helpful in your investigations? Now you can search in a subject ID field to get the photo or legal identification number for the person who reportedly received Western Union or Moneygram money transfers. You can search on a bit of data – say, a Social Security Number or passport number – that can lead you to other information, like the nation issuing a passport or the state issuing a license.

Workshop on IDT and Older Americans

The FTC will host a workshop on May 7 to discuss the effects of identity theft on older Americans. The workshop is free and open to the public; it will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. To recommend topics for the agenda, email by April 5. Read more. 

 Learn more about identity theft.

Pyramid Scheme

At the request of the FTC, a federal court has stopped an alleged pyramid scheme that affected more than 100,000 people, including some Spanish speakers. The FTC says  Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) promoted itself as a path to financial independence, telling people they could make lots of money selling FHTM’s health and beauty products, as well as products and services from Dish Network and cell phone companies. But nearly everyone who paid to join FHTM lost more money than they ever made – or made money only from recruiting others, the FTC says. For more on recognizing a pyramid scheme, read Multilevel Marketing.

Credit Card Fraud

A federal court has temporarily stopped an operation that allegedly used an intricate scheme to defraud financially vulnerable people. According to the FTC’s complaint, Ideal Financial Solutions debited their bank accounts without authorization and charged more than $25 million on their credit cards. The court also froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to control the business, pending trial. Read more.


Sixteen new Sentinel members from 13 states represent 11 police or sheriffs’ departments, an attorney general’s office, and a foreign country.



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