The scam artists who facilitate this scheme ask potential buyers to subscribe to a catalog buying club at a discounted price. However, the upfront costs are high. Subscribers often lose hundreds of dollars because they never receive the products they were promised.
Catalog Fraud Lawyers
Why Are Shop-at-Home/Catalog Clubs Successful?
Many potential buyers are attracted to these clubs because of their great deals. Many willing participants write large checks to receive years of discounted products delivered to their homes.
What Is Fraud?
“Fraud” refers to a criminal act of deception carried out with the intention of financial or personal gain. Fraud is both a civil tort and a criminal offense. In other words, a person who commits fraud can be sued both in a civil and criminal court for damages.
Fraud cases may end up in civil or criminal court, based on who files them and what the act is.
In most civil cases, a private party sues a fraudulent actor for damages because the fraudulent actor intentionally or negligently misrepresented a fact that caused the private party harm.
What Steps Can I Take as a Victim of Catalog Fraud?
It is important for people to be aware that these clubs are a form of fraud. As a result, catalog fraud is a criminal offense.
Victims can take the following steps:
- Contact the Police: Because catalog clubs can constitute fraud, local law enforcement officials may be able to obtain the founders of the scheme to return money to the rightful owners.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission: The FTC regularly helps the Justice Department to prosecute catalog shopping club fraud. If catalog shopping club frauds have reached across state lines, the federal government has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute these individuals.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Shopping Catalog Fraud?
It is important for individuals to remember that shopping catalog club fraud can occur in a variety of different contexts. Ask questions about the proposed offer. It is important to consider whether a great return is feasible and possible.
Asking yourself good questions and thinking about what someone offers can prevent you from falling victim to fraud in countless situations.
What Is the Process for Filing a Consumer Fraud Complaint? What Are Some Additional Consumer Rights?
Consumer protection laws protect consumers’ rights and allow them to file complaints about consumer fraud. Consumers have rights under these laws, and it is helpful to understand them before filing a complaint.
The Federal Trade and Commissions Act (“FTCA”) outlines industry standards for businesses. Essentially, the Act prevents businesses from making statements that could be misleading or confusing to the average consumer. Another consumer protection law would be the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which regulates information on retail product packages.
Consumer protection laws may also cover the following issues:
- False advertising and false business claims, as previously mentioned;
- Breaches of consumer contracts;
- Health and safety codes; and
- Dangerous products and product liability issues.
Often, consumer claims involve violations of more than one consumer protection law.
Some examples of additional consumer rights include:
- Cooling Off Period: Most states give consumers until midnight on the third business day after the product or service was purchased to cancel the contract, for whatever reason. This is known as the cooling-off period and gives the consumer the chance to change their mind if they made the purchase without much thought;
- Shipping Requirements: If a consumer orders something to be shipped, the seller must ship to the consumer in the amount of time stated. If the seller cannot ship the items within the specified timeframe, they must provide the consumer with notice and the option to cancel or accept either a refund or a new delivery date;
- Used Car Rule: According to the used car rule, a dealer is required to post a buyer’s guide on each vehicle. This guide is to disclose the warranty and other important information about the vehicle so that the consumer may make the most informed purchasing decision; and
- Mail Fraud Schemes: Companies are prohibited from sending consumers an item in the mail that they did not order and then expect the consumer to pay for it.
Consumer fraud protection includes filing a complaint. In this process, you should contact the business that sold the item or provided the service and inform them of the issue. Records of all communications regarding the matter are important to help your case. Your next step will be to write a letter of complaint to the business and forward a copy to your local Consumer Protection Agency if it does not take action.
You may also forward a copy to the Better Business Bureau. You may consider hiring an attorney to resolve your consumer fraud issues if no action is taken by any of the parties you have contacted.
What Is the Role of the Consumer Protection Agency?
As was just mentioned, part of the process of filing a consumer fraud complaint involves the Consumer Protection Agency (“CPA”). It is the CPA’s responsibility to regulate the consumer industry.
Here are some examples of what the Consumer Protection Agency does:
- License and regulate professionals;
- Conduct investigations into consumer and financial scams; and
- Criminally prosecute those scammers who are found to be guilty.
In addition, the CPA can assist injured parties in bringing civil lawsuits against fraudulent businesses or professionals. Generally, the Consumer Protection Agency investigates alleged fraudulent business practices. Upon completion of the investigation, the Agency will determine whether the business was fraudulent.
In order to recover personal losses, consumers may file an individual lawsuit against the fraudulent business. Consumers are encouraged to report consumer fraud and abuse under many consumer protection laws, particularly state laws.
A consumer may be asked to participate in a class action lawsuit on behalf of a class of consumers who the same company has injured.
In a consumer protection lawsuit, the following issues will generally be addressed and resolved:
- Whether the law applies to the specific issue at hand;
- If the defendant actually engaged in misconduct as prohibited by the law; and
- Whether the plaintiff actually qualifies as a consumer.
The violation of a consumer protection law may allow consumers to recover damages for injuries or lost profits. A judge may also issue an injunction, which enjoins the defendant to cease any dangerous or illegal activities.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
You can seek legal advice from an attorney if you believe a shopping catalog club has victimized you. To bring a civil suit against these operators, you need an attorney with experience in consumer fraud cases. A fraud attorney can help you recover money from fraud scheme operators, assuming they can be found.
State consumer protection laws vary from state to state, so a local consumer lawyer will best understand how your state’s specific laws will affect your legal options. You can hire an attorney to help you file a lawsuit and gather evidence to support your claim. If you need to file a lawsuit against the fraudulent business, an attorney can also represent you in court.
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