CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado
announced a collaborative effort to educate and empower members of Colorado's immigrant communities to protect themselves from phony immigration consultants and other consumer scams. While Colorado's immigrant communities are being targeted and victimized by scammers and fraudsters, victims are not often reporting these crimes to agencies that can help. One of the most egregious scams currently targeting immigrant communities involves individuals who claim that, for a substantial fee, they can select, prepare, and file immigration forms, speed up the visa and citizenship process, or even use some "special relationship" with U.S. immigration officials to obtain other benefits. These individuals may call themselves an "immigration specialist," "immigration consultant," "visa consultant," "notary," "notary public," "notario," or "notario publico." True notarios in many Latin American countries and in Europe are highly trained and regulated legal experts. This can easily cause confusion with the much narrower authority of a notary in the United States. Predators count on the similarity in titles to mislead the public about their skill and authority to assist immigrants who are simply trying to improve their legal standing in the United States.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida
entered into a settlement agreement with Avis Budget Car Rental System, LLC, which owns the Avis, Budget and Payless car rental companies. The settlement agreement resolves an investigation by her office regarding Avis, Budget and Payless' practices involving add-on fees for cashless tolls in Florida and other related add-on charges. The office investigated allegations that Avis, Budget and Payless did not sufficiently disclose to consumers that they would be charged a daily fee for the companies' e-Toll service, in addition to the cost the customer incurs for a toll on a cashless toll road. The rental companies imposed this charge for each day of the rental, even on days the customer did not use a cashless toll road. Unaware of the e-Toll fee or how to avoid it, many consumers received bills from Avis, Budget or Payless four to six weeks after concluding their rental, advising of the additional charges owed. Since the office commenced its investigation, Avis, Budget and Payless have provided more than $1 million in refunds to consumers. The settlement further requires the three companies to provide refunds to any consumers charged for e-Toll without sufficient disclosures, who have not already been reimbursed and who file a claim for a refund.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa
announced that two out-of-state companies marketing a so-called money-making system must stop promoting the scheme in Iowa, through a court-approved agreement. In the consent judgment, Judge David Porter ordered the companies and people behind Wealthperx, formerly called Lotto Magic, to stop promoting their money-making system in Iowa and refrain from any marketing directed to Iowa residents. In addition to the Iowa marketing ban, the defendants must pay more than $53,000 for refunds to about 300 Iowa victims identified in Wealthperx records. "Our investigation revealed many blatantly fraudulent claims and testimonials," Attorney General Miller said. "The defendants constructed this scheme around a central lie, namely, that by becoming paying members of the Wealthperx system a participant would enjoy a steady stream of income. But our investigation showed that the money stream consistently flowed away from Iowans, not to them."
Looking to hold Remington responsible for the harm caused by the defective triggers on many of its rifles, CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced that her office is leading a coalition of 14 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to overturn a class action settlement arranged by the gun manufacturer. As reported by 60 Minutes and CNBC, more than 7.5 million Remington rifles are prone to accidentally fire without a trigger pull, a defect that already has resulted in numerous deaths and other serious bodily injuries. Despite these ongoing risks, under the settlement, fewer than 25,000 of the defective guns are expected to be repaired. In an amicus brief, the attorneys general criticize the settlement with Remington because it unfairly terminates valuable legal claims for the rifle owners while leaving consumers and the public at ongoing risk of death or injury. The brief was led by Massachusetts and joined by attorneys general from California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota
joined Attorneys General from across the country in submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission, to urge enactment of new rules to block robocalls and caller ID spoofing. "Illegal robocalls are more than just an annoying interruption. They are easy money makers for scam artists, who use computer software not only to generate millions of calls every day but also to display a false number on the caller ID to hide their location," said Attorney General Stenehjem. In the letter, the Attorneys General urge the FCC to allow telephone service providers to block calls from unassigned and invalid numbers, and to provide assistance to people whose actual telephone number has been hijacked by scam artists spoofing the caller ID. CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana stated, "Last year, my Office of Consumer Protection fielded 2,867 complaints and inquiries regarding telephone scams; a 22 percent increase from 2015. Most of these consumer complaints involved spoofed telephone numbers, and many of them were related to the IRS scam or other scams intended to intimidate Montanans into sending money to these swindlers. It's imperative for our nation's telecommunications providers to have the ability to block illegal robocalls to protect consumers from falling victim to this kind of fraud." The attorneys general from the following states also joined the letter: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.