Network News: Spring 2019

May 2019
Volume 12 | Issue 2
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Consumer Sentinal Network

Spring Sentinel Success Stories


This year has already seen multiple success stories in cases that resulted from Consumer Sentinel Network complaints. 
Here are a few: 

FTC impostors receive decades-long sentences.  Two defendants convicted in 2018 of posing as representatives of the FTC and SEC to defraud older Americans out of millions of dollars were sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.  The defendants operated from call centers in Costa Rica, telling victims they had won substantial sweepstakes prizes but had to make up-front payments to collect them.  The scam defrauded victims out of $10 million in total.  The two defendants were sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison respectively.  

The Department of Justice has extradited four Peruvian residents to the U.S., where they face charges of operating a large-scale extortion scheme from 2012 to 2015.  The defendants are alleged to have run Peruvian call centers that contacted Spanish-speaking individuals living in the U.S. to threaten them into paying fraudulent settlements or nonexistent debts, according to the DOJ press release.

At the FTC’s request, a U.S. district court judge permanently halted a New York-based office supply scam operated by a business known as A-1 Janitorial.  In late 2017, the FTC charged the defendants with targeting small businesses and charging them for supposedly free samples of cleaning and other products.

In the Spotlight

It was just a few years ago that the FTC was flooded with complaints about scammers pretending to be from the IRS who called consumers and falsely told them they owed taxes.  In its peak year, consumers reported losing $17 million to these IRS scams.  We have seen a big drop in reports about IRS imposter scams.  The bad news is that scammers have found a new way to try to exploit consumers by falsely claiming to be from the Social Security Administration.  Learn more by reading the FTC’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight.  


Recent Sentinel outreach events have included the National Cybercrime Conference in Massachusetts and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Academy in Maryland.  Look for us this summer at the National Association of Consumer Protection Investigators Conference in Ohio.  Also, the next online training session is Tuesday, June 4th at noon EST and will cover Sentinel in about an hour.  Simply email to register. 


Did You Know?

Sentinel contains an entire library of charging documents from FTC cases.  It’s called the Criminal Liaison Unit (CLU) Library and is located in Other Resources/For Criminal Law Enforcement/CLU Library.  The library contains charging documents used to prosecute scams, consumer fraud, contempt of FTC orders, and other consumer protection violations. The library is a resource for prosecutors and other law enforcers.  You can search by jurisdiction, case type, or defendant to obtain a complaint, indictment, or information.  You can also contact the Criminal Liaison Unit Chief, who works to increase the prosecution of consumer fraud.        

One Ring Scam

The FTC joins the FCC in warning consumers of the one-ring scam.  In this scam, consumers get a phone call from an unknown number, and the call stops after just one ring. The scammer is hoping consumers will call back, because it’s really an international toll number and will appear as a phone bill charge.


The FTC will be hosting its fourth annual PrivacyCon on June 27, 2019.  For PrivacyCon 2019, the FTC is seeking research presentations on a wide range of consumer privacy and security issues, with a particular focus on the economics driving those issues.

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