FTC CAPs Scamsters



I have uncovered a secret weapon used by the Federal Trade Commission: CAP. It’s the acronym for Collect-And-Post. It is the weapon of choice for battling scamsters that engage in credit card fraud, identity theft and Do-Not-Call violations. When consumers report them, the scamsters are listed on the Consumer Sentinel Network.

The consumers are not told who the perps are or what penalties were collected—like the $11,000 to $16,000 fine per call once promised by the FTC. Public identification would violate the rights of perps. Based on the number of unsolicited calls and faxes I continually get—often from the same perps I have reported to the FTC—the CAP weapon is not worrying scamsters. They are either unaware of the danger they are in from being capped or know they are in a growth business in which CAPS are just an occasional business expense.

The FTC claims it “pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement.” Sounds good. Would be better with concrete evidence of vigorous and effective to reassure us the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network is not a sentinel to nowhere. Does it reduce the number of scamsters, keep up with their technical sophistication, or impact their profitability?

The problem: Say there is scamster based in Florida. (There are many.) The scamster hires a telemarketing operation in Colorado. (They do) The scamster robo calls or faxes consumers in Philadelpia and hooks a few. If reported, will the Philadelphia cops go after the crooks in Florida or the phone banks in Colorado? No way. And, besides Collect-And-Post, what will the FTC do?

Sleep well, scamsters, your government wants you to self-regulate.

Tomorrow: The School for Scamsters



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