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St. Louis, MO
Consumer Fraud Task Force Urges Consumers To Report Scams
The Consumer Fraud Task Force urges consumers to report scams to law enforcement and consumers agencies to help stop thieves from preying on others.
July 23, 2014

St. Louis, Mo., July 23, 2014 – As swindlers around the world target Americans in scams, schemes and cons, the Consumer Fraud Task Force urges potential victims to turn the tables on thieves by reporting them to law enforcement authorities and consumer agencies.

The Consumer Fraud Task Force LogoEven when consumers do not know exactly who is involved in the scheme or where the thief is based, they often can provide valuable information to assist law enforcement and other groups to identify trends and track down the perpetrators. Silence can be the scammer’s best friend, the Task Force says.  

“Those who have been scammed should not take it lying down,” said C. Steven Baker, Task Force member and director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Midwest Region. He said reporting can also help locate witnesses and “help prevent your friends and neighbors from being taken.”

In recent months, Task Force members have pursued timeshare scams, bogus lotteries, unethical contractors, phony government grants and a variety of other scams – all with the critical help of consumers in the bistate region.

Specifically, consumer complaints recently played key roles in actions or alerts on several financial schemes, including:

  • An advance fee mortgage modification scheme that resulted in the FTC collecting $500,000 in refunds for customers.
  • A contracting scheme involving victims of the devastating May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo.,  that resulted in the felony conviction of a contractor from Osage Beach, Mo.  That case was prosecuted by the offices of the Missouri attorney general and the Jasper County prosecuting attorney.
  • The case of a St. Louis woman who was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $835,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in connection to  a large-scale identity theft scheme involving fraudulent tax returns. The IRS and Justice Department joined in that case.
  • Better Business Bureau news alerts on a St. Louis-based timeshare rental scheme, bogus vehicle sales scams and questionable door-to-door magazine sales companies.

The FTC, FBI, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Missouri and Illinois attorneys general and BBB all collect information on scams directed at consumers.

Internet-related schemes may be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (also called IC3) at IC3.gov.

Violations of Do Not Call laws should be reported to your state’s attorney general or the FTC. The FTC handles a wide variety of complaints at ftc.gov or 877-382-4357.

Consumers wishing to file a complaint with BBB or report a scam may go to bbb.org or call 314-645-3300.

The Task Force is a coalition of local, state and federal government agencies and nonprofit business and consumer groups in Missouri and Illinois that work together to protect consumer and donor rights and guard against fraud.

The group has tackled predatory payday loan offers, tax scams, timeshare reselling fraud, credit repair and foreclosure scams, bogus sweepstakes, Internet sweetheart scams, home remodeling and a variety of other issues.

To obtain information, or to report a scam, you may contact members of the Task Force:

Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois –       (314) 645-3300; www.bbb.org.
Federal Trade Commission – (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357); www.ftc.gov.
Illinois Attorney General – (800) 243-0618; www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.
Missouri Attorney General – (800) 392-8222; www.ago.mo.gov.
U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri – (314) 539-2200; www.usdoj.gov/usao/moe.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service – (877) 876-2455; postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
U.S. Secret Service – (314) 539-2238; www.secretservice.gov.
Better Business Bureau in Greater Kansas City – (816) 421-7800; www.bbb.org.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, Better Business Bureau, (314) 645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org; Bill Smith, BBB Investigator, (314) 584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org