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Consumer Fraud

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NEWS
February 29, 1996 | By Rory J. O'Connor, INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU
Chain letters in cyberspace. Unregistered investments on the Internet. Bogus Web page builders. Like the rest of American life, the online world has its share of fraud. Now, a consumer group that fights telephone and mail fraud has opened operations on the information highway. The National Consumers League already files about 300 reports of possible consumer fraud each day with law-enforcement agencies, reports it obtains through its National Fraud Information Center. The Internet Fraud Project, launched by the league on Tuesday, takes the work another step by adding electronic mail and World Wide Web access to the existing toll-free phone number for reporting fraud.
BUSINESS
December 15, 2014 | By Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Columnist
What can a wronged consumer do to make a situation right? What's a reasonable response? What counts as an overreaction? Those are perennial questions with no simple answers facing anyone who deals with consumer problems. But two recent events highlight what you might call consumerism's Goldilocks problem - the risks of responses that are too hard or too soft. Too hard comes illustrated by Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard business professor and Internet researcher who was flamed across the Web last week for complaining about a $4 overcharge by a Chinese restaurant outside Boston.
NEWS
September 11, 1991 | by Jim Smith, Daily News Staff Writer
They could make a movie out of Melvin Seligsohn's life as Philadelphia's most crooked home-roofing contractor, one U.S. Labor Department agent suggested yesterday. It would tell a story of greed and fraud more "outrageous" than the film "Tin Men" did about conniving aluminum-siding salesmen, the agent, Bob McKee, said. In the con business, Seligsohn did it all, McKee said, pulling off "the largest consumer fraud" in the area's history. And he got away with it for nearly two decades, according to McKee.
NEWS
February 9, 2006 | By Mitch Lipka INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
New Jersey is suing one of the nation's largest lawn-care companies for allegedly charging Garden State customers for services they didn't want or were told would be free, the state announced yesterday. "They're not even talking to the consumers," said Kimberly Ricketts, director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs. "They're just doing it without getting the authorization. " A spokeswoman for the company, which operates as TruGreen ChemLawn, said she hoped that meetings with state officials would satisfy concerns over its alleged practices.
BUSINESS
November 21, 2012 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
  First Bank of Delaware, which has ties to Philadelphia's Republic First Bancorp Inc. and a history of run-ins with regulators, has agreed to a $15 million fine for consumer fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday. From 2009 to 2011, First Bank of Delaware allegedly facilitated two million debit transactions worth more than $100 million for payment processors who were "in cahoots" with fraudulent merchants that found victims over the Internet and by telephone, a civil complaint filed Monday said.
NEWS
September 11, 1991 | By Lisa Ellis, Inquirer Staff Writer
A federal grand jury yesterday charged roofing moguls Melvin and Marlene Esther Seligsohn with heading a multimillion-dollar racketeering conspiracy that defrauded thousands of elderly customers, the Internal Revenue Service and a union benefits' fund. In four indictments totaling 88 counts against 26 defendants, the grand jury outlined a consumer-fraud scheme that U.S. Attorney Michael M. Baylson called the largest ever prosecuted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Seligsohns, a Huntingdon Valley couple who operated Mickey DeMarco Family Roofing Co. and eight other roofing companies between 1972 and 1990, were charged with using deceitful sales tactics and skimming as much as $1 million a year in cash to defraud the IRS. The companies also were accused of cheating Roofers Local 30-30B benefit funds of $400,000 by filing false reports of employee hours and paying union shop steward Donald Doyle $20,000 in bribes to keep the underreporting secret.
NEWS
October 30, 1996 | BY BURTON CAINE
I Iwas defrauded by the crudest travel scheme you can imagine. Come to our office for an hour sales pitch, I was told, and we would get a free weekend at a first-class hotel. In a prior career, I devoted years of law practice to this type of deceit and I have lectured overseas on behalf of the government on consumer fraud. So I knew all the tricks, and was careful to get assurances that we would not be obligated to pay one single penny! Still I was suspicious and decided it was not worth it to drive to a distant travel agent and listen to a sales pitch of no interest of us. But these bandits kept calling and kept promising it would not cost one cent.
NEWS
December 20, 1997 | By Larry Lewis, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Three local law firms that won a $120 million damage award in New Jersey against rental industry giant Rent-a-Center will share $30 million in fees, a Camden County judge ruled yesterday. The two New Jersey firms and one from Haverford in Delaware County deserve 25 percent of the settlement as payment because they ventured into "uncharted waters" and risked great loss, the judge said. Meanwhile, lawyers said, customers of Rent-a-Center in New Jersey back to 1988 could be eligible for payments of between $1,200 and $15,000, depending on how much merchandise they leased from the company.
NEWS
January 15, 2008
SO WHO'S not taking steroids? Now comes word that some hip-hop, R&B and other entertainers have ordered performance-enhancing drugs from doctors being investigated by David Soares, the Albany, N.Y., district attorney. The Albany Times-Union reported that 50-Cent, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige and writer Tyler Perry had ordered the drugs. Soares is after doctors, pharmacists and "anti-aging clinics" that prescribe them. There's no evidence that the stars broke the law. We doubt steroids or human growth hormones can improve a person's ability to sing, rap or act. But they can make a body look fit. Sprinter Marion Jones gets six months in jail for lying to investigators about using the drugs.
NEWS
December 15, 2002 | By Phil Joyce FOR THE INQUIRER
My mother-in-law enjoyed greeting us with, "What can I do you for?" She was in her 80s, and one of the most trusting and generous people I ever knew. Neighbor kids would go to the door and ask for money. With the front door wide open and her purse visible on a dining room table, she would go to it and bring them a buck or two. But the neighborhood started to decline and so did she - with dementia. She began handing 20s to druggies, the purse always visible. So we moved her to a nursing home, where she lived secure and comfortable well into her 90s. Today, the woods are full of people who will "do you for" anything they can get. And you don't have to open the door for them.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
BUSINESS
December 15, 2014 | By Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Columnist
What can a wronged consumer do to make a situation right? What's a reasonable response? What counts as an overreaction? Those are perennial questions with no simple answers facing anyone who deals with consumer problems. But two recent events highlight what you might call consumerism's Goldilocks problem - the risks of responses that are too hard or too soft. Too hard comes illustrated by Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard business professor and Internet researcher who was flamed across the Web last week for complaining about a $4 overcharge by a Chinese restaurant outside Boston.
BUSINESS
November 21, 2012 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
  First Bank of Delaware, which has ties to Philadelphia's Republic First Bancorp Inc. and a history of run-ins with regulators, has agreed to a $15 million fine for consumer fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday. From 2009 to 2011, First Bank of Delaware allegedly facilitated two million debit transactions worth more than $100 million for payment processors who were "in cahoots" with fraudulent merchants that found victims over the Internet and by telephone, a civil complaint filed Monday said.
SPORTS
August 13, 2010 | By Phil Sheridan, Inquirer Columnist
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Try not to notice the NFL gave the Eagles the honor of playing their first game of 2010 on Friday the 13th. And try to ignore the fact that the very same people who justified forcing exhibition games on their season-ticket buyers are now openly admitting the preseason is basically consumer fraud - because now the league and its owners want to expand the regular season to 18 games. Forget, if you can, that the Jacksonville Jaguars may not be the best test of the Eagles' state of readiness for the rigors of the NFC East.
BUSINESS
March 28, 2010 | Compiled from The Inquirer, Associated Press, Bloomberg News
"Consumers are exhaling after the enormous loss of wealth from the recession. The intensive retrenchment that they were doing during the recession has ended. " - Citigroup's chief U.S. economist Robert DiClemente "If you're fraudulent, you deserve to be punished. " - jury foreman Hank Pierotti, after his federal jury said Pfizer Inc. must pay $142.1 million for racketeering fraud in the marketing of epilepsy drug Neurontin "I hope that financial markets will now act on fact and not on fiction.
NEWS
January 15, 2008
SO WHO'S not taking steroids? Now comes word that some hip-hop, R&B and other entertainers have ordered performance-enhancing drugs from doctors being investigated by David Soares, the Albany, N.Y., district attorney. The Albany Times-Union reported that 50-Cent, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige and writer Tyler Perry had ordered the drugs. Soares is after doctors, pharmacists and "anti-aging clinics" that prescribe them. There's no evidence that the stars broke the law. We doubt steroids or human growth hormones can improve a person's ability to sing, rap or act. But they can make a body look fit. Sprinter Marion Jones gets six months in jail for lying to investigators about using the drugs.
NEWS
February 9, 2006 | By Mitch Lipka INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
New Jersey is suing one of the nation's largest lawn-care companies for allegedly charging Garden State customers for services they didn't want or were told would be free, the state announced yesterday. "They're not even talking to the consumers," said Kimberly Ricketts, director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs. "They're just doing it without getting the authorization. " A spokeswoman for the company, which operates as TruGreen ChemLawn, said she hoped that meetings with state officials would satisfy concerns over its alleged practices.
NEWS
December 18, 2002 | By Mitch Lipka INQUIRER TRENTON BUREAU
The owner and manager of a Blackwood transmission shop and a Mount Laurel couple who ran a health club were among the targets of state consumer-protection lawsuits announced yesterday. The Division of Consumer Affairs sued dozens of individuals and firms accused of a variety of schemes to defraud New Jersey residents. The owner and manager of Greentree Auto Parts, which does business as Greentree Transmission Warehouse at 201 Lakeland Rd. in Blackwood, are accused of routinely deceiving consumers since 1998.
NEWS
December 15, 2002 | By Phil Joyce FOR THE INQUIRER
My mother-in-law enjoyed greeting us with, "What can I do you for?" She was in her 80s, and one of the most trusting and generous people I ever knew. Neighbor kids would go to the door and ask for money. With the front door wide open and her purse visible on a dining room table, she would go to it and bring them a buck or two. But the neighborhood started to decline and so did she - with dementia. She began handing 20s to druggies, the purse always visible. So we moved her to a nursing home, where she lived secure and comfortable well into her 90s. Today, the woods are full of people who will "do you for" anything they can get. And you don't have to open the door for them.
NEWS
October 24, 2000 | by John M. Baer, Daily News Staff Writer
Talk about talkin' smack. This political event included references to Satan, excrement, perjury and fraud. And if you're thinking, "Ah, must be the Legislature," well, you're right. Philly's John Perzel and Greene County's Bill DeWeese - the political equivalent of oil and water set aflame - teed off on each other yesterday in a joint appearance near the Capitol. House Republican leader Perzel didn't even wait for the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at the Harrisburg Hilton to start.
NEWS
May 1, 1998 | by Don Russell, Daily News Staff Writer
The Bad News Beers - an overpriced bunch of misfit Veterans Stadium brews - may soon get yanked from the lineup by City Council. Citing allegations of possible consumer fraud, Councilman Jim Kenney yesterday called for hearings to investigate the Vet's food and beverage concession. "People have gotten used to paying high prices for bad food," said Kenney, whose Licenses and Inspections committee may hold hearings in June. "I disagree with that. We're missing a chance to promote our city's epicurean delights.
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