National Consumers League praises FTC’s multilingual fraud reporting announcement

November 8, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization today praised the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) announcement that consumers can now file fraud and identity complaints in their preferred languages. NCL is the home of the Fraud.org campaign, which is a long-time contributor of complaint data to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network as well as being an ally in the Commission’s efforts to educate consumers about frauds.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, John Breyault:

“All consumers are at risk of fraud, regardless of the language they speak. Making it easier for fraud victims to report these crimes in their own language to the FTC is a critically important step in the fight against scams. We are thrilled with today’s announcement and look forward to continuing to work with the Commission and our allies in the anti-fraud community to protect consumers from criminal scammers.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit nclnet.org.

Top Ten Scams Report: Consumers reported massive uptick in crypto-linked fraud losses in 2022

February 6, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reports of scams tied to cryptocurrencies drove a significant increase in median losses in 2022, according to the National Consumers League’s annual Top Ten Scams report. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 3,500 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year. 

The report found that the median loss for investment frauds reported to Fraud.org was $18,700, compared to $1,750 in 2021. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent. Such scams drove an increase in the median loss for all frauds reported to Fraud.org to $950, an eleven-year high. 

“Both median losses and the share of incidents reporting losses are up,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud and the director of the Fraud.org campaign. “New technologies seem to be driving these trends, from crypto-related schemes to scammers using new technology to move victims’ money around.” 

Bank account debit, which includes peer-to-peer platforms like Zelle and Venmo, was the second most frequently mentioned way that victims reported sending money to fraudsters in 2022 (27.17% of complaints that included a loss). Compare this to 2021 when bank account debit was mentioned in 11.2% of complaints that included a loss. 

The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2022 were: 

  1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts 
  2. Internet: General Merchandise 
  3. Phishing/Spoofing 
  4. Fake Check Scams 
  5. Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency) 
  6. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers 
  7. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles 
  8. Family/ Friend Imposter 
  9. Computers: Equipment/Software 
  10. Scholarships/Grants 

“While we’re collecting data to better inform our efforts to combat fraud, we’re also aiding victims and connecting them with resources,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “It’s important to remember the person behind each report.” 

Notably, the share of reports involving romance scams declined by 31%. This trend may be attributable to last year’s significant media coverage of this type of fraud following the success of fraud-focused shows like “The Tinder Swindler” and “Inventing Anna.”  

“In real time, we are seeing the benefits of a national discussion around these types of fraud” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “Having an open conversation about something as sensitive as romance scams helps to destigmatize the issue, provide space for victims to seek help, and put pressure on digital platforms to prevent misconduct.” 

To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here. 

Methodology 

The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 3,503 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2022. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases. 

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit https://nclnet.org.

Breyault and Amazon’s Alyssa Betz discuss policing fake reviews and counterfeits

 

By NCL Staff

 

This week, John Breyault, our Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, sat down with Amazon’s Director of Public Policy, Alyssa Betz. On this episode of NCL’s We Can Do This! podcast, Alyssa and John discussed fake reviews, Amazon’s product liability, and more. This has been the latest collaboration between Amazon and NCL in our partnership towards improving consumer safety and online experiences.  

Fake Reviews 

With users increasingly relying on user reviews to make buying decisions, having access to trustworthy reviews is critical for consumers. Last month, Amazon sued a group of review brokers who were allegedly paying for fake reviews at large scale. In addition to discussing the suit, Betz outlined some of the steps they have taken to ensure that user reviews are trustworthy and accurately reflect consumers’ experiences. 

Counterfeits 

Given the vast number of products sold through nearly two million sellers worldwide, Amazon has an enormous responsibility to ensure consumer safety. Alyssa discussed some of the measures Amazon has taken to reduce criminals’ ability to operate on their platform, including investing over $700 million and employing more than ten thousand people to protect its store from fraud and abuse, including counterfeit products.

To hear the full episode, including John and Alyssa’s conversation about product liability and how to spot those phony Amazon delivery phishing texts, click here. 

If you have received suspicious communications or packages claiming to be from Amazon, you can find Amazon’s support page here. 

National Consumers League applauds the Department of Justice for bringing phone scam perpetrators to justice – National Consumers League

July 24, 2018

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, today commended the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for its crackdown on impersonation scams targeting vulnerable Americans. Last week, following their arrest in 2017, 24 perpetrators of a phone scam in which fraudsters extorted money from victims by impersonating IRS agents, or employees of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The following statement is attributable to James Perry, Customer Services Coordinator and John Breyault, Vice President, Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, both of the National Consumers League:

“Imposter scams consistently rank amongst the most prevalent scams reported to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign. Last year alone, Americans lost a whopping $327 million to scammers who were impersonating individuals or government agencies. With the DOJ’s announcement that they have ended a massive operation that extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from vulnerable consumers, Americans can feel a little bit safer from a threatening phone call from a scammer. While we applaud the DOJ for this hard-won victory, we must all continue working hard to both educate consumers about this scam and redouble our efforts to put other perpetrators of this scam behind bars.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit https://nclnet.org.