Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

March 2017 Archives

A new type of phishing scam is circulating via email that's targeting schools and universities. The scammers' malicious game is likely to leave their victims beyond confused when they find out scammers did their taxes!

Basically, the scam works like this: Scammers send HR departments emails attempting to get large batches of employee social security numbers alongside corresponding W-2 forms. Once the scammers have those, they go ahead and file a person's tax return in order to steal the tax refund.

Ford Motor Co. announced a new recall affecting nearly half a million vehicles. The newest recall involves two different issues and several different Ford models. Fortunately, there have been no reported injuries as a result of these problems.

Consumer safety is among the most important things a manufacturing company needs to be concerned with. The voluntary recalls both involve safety issues. One problems involves the door latches that have plagued Ford in the recent past. However, the other issue is a new one, and involves engines potentially catching fire.

A 30-year-old San Diego woman has died after she had an adverse reaction to receiving an IV infusion that included turmeric. She was seeking treatment at a naturopathic clinic, where the IV supplement was administered to her. The San Diego medical examiner has attributed the death in large part to the turmeric IV.

The popular cooking spice has been gaining in popularity over recent years as a natural cure-all of sorts. However, it is usually taken orally in pill form, or as a powdered spice.

Savvy social media users know feeds can be filled with fake news, false advertisements, and other scams. And Bitcoin, the online "cryptocurrency" that promises anonymity and security to its users, is not immune to the social media scam.

ZeroFOX, a cyber security company that monitors cloud-based software and social media for threats and scams, has uncovered a few new scams targeting Bitcoin users on social media, from basic malware downloads to complicated Ponzi schemes. Here's what you need to know.

The makers of a drinkable sunscreen, Osmosis Harmonized H2O, are being sued by the Iowa Attorney General due to claims of fraud and deceiving consumers. The makers claims that by drinking five pumps of this water, that has been exposed to "proprietary frequencies in the form of scalar waves" from their harmonizer machine, a person can be protected at the same level of a SPF 30 sunscreen for 3 hours. The Iowa AG has called these shaky claims into question, and despite the less than 3.5oz bottle of drinkable sunscreen costing $30, is seeking $40,000 per consumer.

The actual lawsuit goes so far as to call the product's allegedly scientific basis "pure bunk" and "pseudo-science at its worst," explaining that there is no scientific fact to support the claims made. Additionally, it was never disclosed that the doctor that drafted a report in support, in 2014, had not been licensed to practice medicine since 2001. Significantly, the report was neither peer reviewed, nor published.

Vulto Creamery, makers of handmade raw milk cheeses, has been named in the wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of a Vermont man that died as a result of listeria contamination back in November 2016. The lawsuit, filed by his widow, explains that Richard Friedman consumed the Vulto Creamery's cheese in October, before he fell ill due to the listeria contamination. After over a week in a hospital, Friedman suffered a stroke believed to be related to, or a result of, the listeria poisoning.

At this time, there have been six reported hospitalization, and two deaths, related to the specific strain of listeria that contaminated the Vulto raw milk cheese, all of which were reported between September 1, 2016 and the end of January 2017. The FDA and CDC began investigating the matter at the end of January 2017.

The age old saying, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,' is unfortunately applied by scammers with alarming frequency. The same old scams keep getting repeated, likely because these time-tested tricks work. Once commonly referred to as the 809 or 473-scam, this scam, according to one source, is making a comeback, or maybe never truly vanished.

The 809 or 473-scam essentially attempts to get victims to call certain international phone numbers that appear to be domestic in order to use the person's phone carrier to pass through pay-per-minute and connection charges, similarly to the 1-900 numbers that used to advertise heavily on late night TV until the internet came along and all but ended that racket. Essentially, if you think an area code looks unusual, it could literally cost you money if you don't look it up before you call back.

Evanger's Dog and Cat Food issued a voluntary recall last month amid concerns that a common animal euthanasia drug contamination in their products was linked to five pets' illnesses and the death of one pet. Just this month, Evanger's updated their recall to include two additional product lines potentially manufactured with the same drug contaminated beef. The euthanasia drug, pentobarbital, was found by the FDA in two cans produced by Evanger's that were linked to the same batch of meat that caused the illnesses and death.

It is well known that scam artists tend to focus their efforts on the more vulnerable members of our society. The elderly frequently get conned due to failing mental health, or by being easily tricked, or physically intimidated. However, recently, due to changes in immigration policy, scammers have been turning their attention to immigrants.

Immigrants that are worried about their undocumented status, have immigration paperwork pending, or even those with legal status, have been targeted though various schemes and cons. Undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable because they frequently fear contacting law enforcement due to their undocumented status, and the scammers know this and know how to take advantage of this fear.

Below you'll find three different types of scams that immigrants should know.

Peanut allergy sufferers, take note: If you or anyone you know eats I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter, a popular peanut-free peanut butter alternative, the company that makes the product has issued a warning for consumers to not eat the product. A voluntary recall has also been issued because of an E. Coli outbreak linked to SoyNut Butter's granola products as well. At this time, there are just over 15 people who have been confirmed to have contracted the pathogen.

Unfortunately, the E. Coli contamination can cause serious illnesses, and there have been a handful of reports that young children have suffered from kidney failure as a result of eating the product. Although a lawsuit has already been filed, as the recall is still relatively new, more claimants are expected to come forward with claims.

How to Spot an IRS Scam

Don't declare the pennies on your eyes unless the IRS sends you something in writing. Scam artists are getting colder and bolder these days. Last year, a massive call center in India was shut down after it was discovered that scammers working in the center were scamming Americans out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be IRS agents.

My advice for those who get phone calls from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent: just hang up. Below you'll find three tips to help you identify when you are being targeted by a fake IRS scam.

The online payment powerhouse PayPal is facing a public image fiasco as a result of a recent class action lawsuit alleging they lied to people making charitable contributions. Essentially, the lawsuit claims that people were tricked into donating to charities of their choosing, when in fact, many of the chosen charities were ineligible to receive the funds donated through PayPal.

Although the charitable contributions people made still were given to charity, many of the intended recipients never received funds. PayPal is alleged to have redirected the undeliverable charitable contributions to other organizations that were eligible.

When the Takata airbag recall was announced, millions of car owners were shocked to discover that their cars were on the list. According to reports, millions of consumers still have vehicles containing the defective Takata airbags from the first several rounds of recalls. Now, Ford Motor Co. has discovered that there is a defect in how the new Takata airbags are installed.

The initial recall included cars manufactured by Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and BMW. The sheer size of the recall required the NHSTA to take over coordination of the recall in order to prioritize which regions of the country got the replacement parts first.

Consumers in California have filed a lawsuit claiming that the distributors of Kona Brewing Company beers intentionally misled them to believe the beer "originates from Hawaii," when in fact Kona beers available in the continental United States are brewed in Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, or New Hampshire.

The lawsuit claims consumers paid more for the beer based on their belief that the beer was brewed in Hawaii. The dispute is just the latest in a string of craft beer lawsuits.

Although toys have come a long long way over the past few decades, parents are right to be concerned about getting young kids toys that connect to the internet. If you were considering purchasing a 21st century stuffed animal for your 21st century kid, you might want to consider getting something other than a Cloudpet.

Actually, considering the massive data breach suffered by Cloudpets, you might just want to avoid getting kids any sort of toys that connect to the internet, or at least avoid being an early adopter.