The FTC had a busy week, taking multiple actions against alleged scammers and pyramid schemes in the finance and credit industries. In merger news, the agency announced a workshop on pharmaceutical mergers, and it took enforcement actions related to several mergers in a variety of industries. The FTC also issued a report showing that consumers have lost a whopping $1 billion in cryptocurrency scams since 2021. These stories and more after the jump.
Monday, January 10, 2022
Consumer Protection: Cryptocurrency Payment Scams
- The FTC issued a warning alerting consumers to a new cryptocurrency scam. Scammers begin by impersonating government, law enforcement, or local utility companies. They message or call the victim to the tell them that they have won the lottery or a prize. Eventually, the scammer requests money from the victim and instructs the person to withdraw cryptocurrency from a cryptocurrency ATM. The scammer provides a QR code so the victim can transfer the cryptocurrency to themselves. Tracking the cryptocurrency is extremely difficult to do, which means most victims are not able to retrieve their funds. The FTC issued the warning due to the increased number of reported scams.
Blockchain is a digital, decentralized, distributed ledger that provides a way for information to be recorded, shared and maintained by a community. Below we review the impact blockchain can have on increasing product safety, reducing recall expense, combatting counterfeits and otherwise assisting retailers in managing risk and protecting customers. By allowing for near real time, immutable tracking that is easily accessible to suppliers, manufacturers and government entities, blockchain technology has the capacity to revolutionize the retail industry.
Key features of the blockchain include:
- Near real time – enables almost instant settlement of recorded transactions, removing friction and reducing risk.
- Reliable and available – as multiple participants share a blockchain, it has no single point of failure and is resilient in the face of outages and attacks.
- Transparent – transactions are visible to all participants, with identical copies maintained on multiple computer systems, increasing the ability to audit and trust the information held.
- Irreversible – it is possible to make transactions irreversible, which can increase the accuracy of records and simplify back-office processes.
- Immutable – it is nearly impossible to make changes to a blockchain without detection, increasing confidence in the information it carries and reducing the opportunities for fraud.
Helping Product Safety, Reducing Recall Costs and Protecting Brands…
Continue Reading Blockchain & the Retail Industry: Product Safety and Counterfeiting Use Cases
The FTC’s Consumer Protection Division has long targeted advertisements for “work-at-home,” business and investment opportunities that exaggerate the earning potential and downplay risks. Recently, the FTC announced that it filed a complaint against four individuals doing business as “Bitcoin Funding Team” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for deceptively advertising a cryptocurrency scheme that promised consumers that they could turn a cryptocurrency payment of approximately $100 into $80,000 in monthly income. Specifically, the complaint alleges two counts: 1) that Defendants’ representations that the programs are structured to operate as bona fide money-making opportunities are false or misleading and violate Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, and 2) that Defendants’ representations that consumers who participate in the programs are likely to earn substantial income are also false or misleading, violating Section 5(a). On March 16th, the Commission secured a temporary restraining order against, and froze the assets of pending trial, the defendants it alleges who were operating and promoting cryptocurrency pyramid schemes.