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How the FTC Conducts Investigations of Online Scams

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

 

How the FTC Conducts Investigations of Online Scams

The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, is the main federal agency that investigates complaints and conducts law enforcement actions against online scams and fraud. With the rise of the internet and e-commerce, online scams have become increasingly common and cost consumers billions of dollars each year.

The FTC relies on reports from consumers to detect and stop online scams. When you report a scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, it helps the agency investigate the scam and build cases against scammers. The FTC entered over 2.4 million fraud reports into its Consumer Sentinel database in 2022 alone.

Types of Online Scams the FTC Investigates

Some of the most common online scams the FTC investigates include:

  • Imposter scams – Where scammers pretend to be someone you trust to trick you into sending them money or sharing personal information.
  • Online shopping scams – Where you pay for something you found online but never receive the product.
  • Prize and sweepstakes scams – Where scammers say you won a contest but must pay fees before you can claim the prize.
  • Investment scams – Where scammers promise unrealistic returns on investments to trick you into sending them money.
  • Business and job opportunity scams – Where scammers charge you upfront fees for a business or job opportunity that ends up being fake.

Other types of online scams the FTC investigates include phishing scams, romance scams, tech support scams, and more. Scams frequently target older adults but can affect consumers of all ages.

How the FTC Investigates Online Scams

The FTC uses consumer complaints to the Consumer Sentinel database to identify trends and track the biggest scams affecting consumers. FTC investigators analyze the complaint data to spot spikes in reports about specific scams or companies. They look for commonalities in the reports that point to larger scam operations.

When the FTC identifies a pattern of fraud, they open an investigation. FTC investigators have a wide range of tools at their disposal to investigate scams and identify the perpetrators, including:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • Issuing subpoenas to scammers and third parties, like banks, to obtain evidence
  • Tracing money flows between bank accounts controlled by scammers
  • Posing as consumers to gather evidence by interacting with scammers
  • Collaborating with law enforcement agencies who can conduct surveillance
  • Working with tech companies who can share data on scam transactions and accounts

The FTC also monitors internet traffic and social media to detect new scams as they emerge. The agency has staff dedicated to finding scam operations by proactively surfing the web.

FTC Actions Against Scammers

When an FTC investigation uncovers an online scam operation, the agency can take law enforcement action to stop the scammers and prevent future harm to consumers. The FTC has several tools to take action:

  • Federal court injunctions – The FTC can file a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction to halt illegal practices by scammers. Injunctions can stop scams immediately while litigation proceeds.
  • Administrative orders – The FTC can issue administrative orders that require scammers to cease illegal activity. Failure to comply can result in civil penalties.
  • Criminal referrals – The FTC can refer scammers to criminal law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.
  • Asset freezes – The FTC can freeze the assets of scammers to preserve funds for potential refunds to scam victims.

The FTC also works to educate consumers about new and emerging online scams through consumer alerts and media campaigns. This education helps prevent consumers from falling victim to scams that can result in major financial losses.

Reporting Online Scams to the FTC

The FTC relies heavily on direct reports from consumers to detect and stop online scams. If you encounter a scam, be sure to report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Provide as many details as possible in your report, including:

  • How you were contacted by the scammer
  • What the scammer asked you to do
  • Any phone numbers, website addresses, or usernames used by the scammer
  • Any money you lost to the scam

Your report provides valuable intelligence that can help the FTC and law enforcement investigate and prosecute scammers. By reporting scams, you can help protect other consumers from falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

With billions of dollars lost to online scams each year, the FTC takes its mandate to protect consumers seriously. Reporting scams you encounter helps strengthen the FTC’s law enforcement efforts against online fraud.

References

Report Fraud to the FTC

FTC Consumer Advice on Scams

FTC Data on Money Lost to Scams

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Todd Spodek

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CLAIRE BANKS

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RAJESH BARUA

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