2017 CWAG Annual Meeting
San Francisco, CA
July 30- August 2, 2017
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada
, along with the Nevada Broadcasters Association, unveiled a series of television and radio Non-Commercial Sustaining Announcements (NCSAs) aimed at promoting awareness about human trafficking and the funds available for victims of this crime in Nevada. The announcements will appear in both English and Spanish. In 2013, Assembly Bill (AB) 311 was passed authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to create a contingency account to allocate money to nonprofit corporations and agencies benefiting victims of human trafficking. The account is entirely donation based, and helps Nevada's victims in emergency situations such as temporary housing or transportation costs. Since taking office, Attorney General Laxalt has co-hosted two benefit dinners supporting victims of human trafficking that have raised more than $76,000 in funds for the contingency account. "Nevada has made important strides to combat human trafficking, but the fight is far from over," said Attorney General Laxalt. "This statewide campaign during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month is made in an effort to continue to educate our communities about the realities of this crime and to reassure victims that help is available. This month should serve as a reminder to all Nevadans that each one of us can play a part in combating human trafficking, whether by educating our communities or offering our time and financial support to organizations that provide services to victims."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas
highlighted the work of his office's human trafficking section and announced a new initiative to mobilize as many Texans as possible in the fight against trafficking. During the press conference, Attorney General Paxton announced that in September of this year, his office will complete a comprehensive training video on human trafficking awareness. It will initially be made available to all 315,000 state employees and is mandatory viewing for the office of the attorney general's 4,000 employees. "I am challenging my fellow state agency heads to follow suit," he said. The video is intended to teach viewers how to detect and report suspected human trafficking activity. One of Attorney General Paxton's first initiatives after taking office was the creation in January 2016 of a special unit dedicated to strengthening efforts in Texas to catch and prosecute traffickers. He noted that under the leadership of Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Leeburg Melton, the agency's Human Trafficking/Transnational Organized Crime section (HTTOC) has already assisted or consulted on dozens of cases, such as the arrest of the CEO of Backpage.com, whose online "adult" ads have been linked to sex trafficking of women and children.
DEVELOPING YOUNG LEADERS
CWAG Associate Attorney General Peterson of Nebraska
is continuing his commitment to cultivate future leaders in Nebraska by hosting the 2017 Attorney General's Youth Conference. The annual conference will be held at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Participants will be invited to engage in discussion and debate on a wide-range of critical issues facing students in the 21st century, they will hear from AGO Bureau Chiefs, tour the Capitol, and spend the noon hour at the Governor's Residence for a short program. Schools across Nebraska received invitations to nominate juniors from their high schools to be candidates for the conference.
PROTECTING STUDENT PRIVACY
CWAG Associate Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi
announced that the state has filed suit against Google Inc., over how the internet giant maintains and uses data collected from Mississippi public school students who have Google's G Suite For Education accounts.
Google is accused of collecting personal information and search history obtained from its users in order to advance its own business interests and increase its profit, in violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act. "It is disturbing to think that one of the world's most profitable corporations would try to make even more money by deceiving parents and taking advantage of Mississippi school children," Attorney General Hood said. "Through this lawsuit, we want to know the extent of Google's data mining and marketing of student information to third parties. I don't think there could be any motivation other than greed for a company to deliberately keep secret how it collects and uses student information."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Luther Strange of Alabama
announced a Mobile County Circuit Court has ruled in favor of the State in an electronic bingo forfeiture case against the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians (Choctaw Entertainment Center) in Mt. Vernon, Alabama. "The Mobile Circuit Court agreed with the State that the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians were operating illegal electronic bingo machines and they must forfeit the 50 machines and a total of $10,090.47 seized from the Choctaw Entertainment Center in Mt. Vernon, Alabama," said Attorney General Strange. "The funds seized from the illegal operations at the Choctaw Entertainment Center will be transferred to the General Fund of the State of Alabama and the electronic bingo machines will be destroyed as directed by the court." The MOWA Band of the Choctaw Indians of southwest Alabama are a non-federally recognized Indian tribe.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida
announced coordinated settlements with the operators of an online lending scheme. The operators of the alleged scheme are Western Sky Financial, LLC, CashCall, Inc., WS Funding, LLC, Delbert Services Corporation and John Paul Reddam, who is President, CEO, owner and director of CashCall. These settlements, in coordination with a pending Florida class action settlement against CashCall and Reddam filed in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida, resolve allegations that the lender offered, serviced and collected on Western Sky loans to Florida borrowers with illegal interest rates of more than 18 percent. Subject to final court order in the class action, the settlements collectively provide more than $27 million in monetary relief to Floridians. "Lending schemes harm consumers seeking financial assistance, and with these settlements, Florida borrowers will now be better protected from such business practices," said Attorney General Bondi. "Thanks to a great partnership with the Office of Financial Regulation, Floridians will receive millions in restitution."
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado
announced that a judge has granted the Attorney General's motion for a preliminary injunction against Guaranteed Solar, LLC, a Lakewood company that sold expensive solar energy systems to residential consumers and then kept the consumer's money without delivering the systems. The injunction bars the company from engaging in any further sale of solar energy systems. According to the Attorney General's lawsuit, Guaranteed Solar and its predecessor company, Innersol Global, LLC, scammed 15 Colorado consumers for a combined total of $450,000.00. "Consumers must be cautious about undertaking expensive projects and investments with individuals about whom they know little," said Attorney General Coffman. "It is essential not only to ask for current customer referrals, but also to do additional research on the company or individual's history over the past several years. Unfortunately, scammers are counting on consumers to trust but not verify."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina
announced he filed suit against Accelerated Receivables Management, Inc. (ARM), also known as Cutting Edge Collections, for demanding payment for alleged past due debt for medical testing from consumers who believed their testing had been covered by insurance or already paid. In many cases, consumers reported that ARM employees were harassing or threatening in the process, which would be a violation of the NC Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Judge Allen Baddour signed off on a Consent Preliminary Injunction against ARM and its president and general counsel, Francine Clair Landau. This means that ARM may not conduct any debt collection business in North Carolina while the lawsuit is ongoing. Attorney General Stein also is requesting that the court require ARM to pay civil penalties and restore any funds obtained through unfair and deceptive acts. "I am very troubled by consumers' claims that they are being harassed for money they do not owe," said Attorney General Stein. "Protecting people by putting an end to this type of activity is an important reason why I ran to become North Carolina's Attorney General. My office will not stand for it and we will continue to fully investigate these claims."
FIGHTING OPIOID ABUSE
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan
announced felony charges against 10 Lansing-area residents for their alleged roles in an opioid prescription drug ring whose members presented forged prescriptions at several Mid-Michigan area pharmacies in order to obtain prescription pain pills and defraud the Michigan Medicaid Program. After filling the prescriptions, the drugs were then sold for cash or traded for other drugs "When misused, prescription drugs can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs," said Attorney General Schuette. "We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone involved in diverting prescription drugs outside the realm of legitimate medical treatment who are contributing to the scourge of opioid addiction to make money, at the detriment to those addicted and to our state as a whole." The charges were filed following an investigation completed by Schuette's Health Care Fraud Division after a complaint was referred to them by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement team that serves Ingham, Clinton and Eaton Counties.