From the daily archives: Friday, July 2, 2010

The IC3 continues to receive reports of individuals’ e-mail or social networking accounts being compromised and used in a social engineering scam to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars. Portraying to be the victim, the hacker uses the victim’s account to send a notice to their contacts. The notice claims the victim is in immediate need of money due to being robbed of their credit cards, passport, money, and cell phone; leaving them stranded in London or some other location. Some claim they only have a few days to pay their hotel bill and promise to reimburse upon their return home. A sense of urgency to help their friend/contact may cause the recipient to fail to validate the claim, increasing the likelihood of them falling for this scam.

If you receive a similar notice and are not sure it is a scam, you should always verify the information before sending any money.

If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other Cyber crime, you can report it to the IC3 website at: The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. Complaint information is also usedto identity emerging trends and patterns.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were screening pedestrian traffic coming from Mexico yesterday when a young man pulled a knife from his pocket and attempted to stab a CBP officer.

Officers were screening pedestrian traffic coming from Mexico when they were approached by a young man. The officers noticed that the man kept his hands in his pant pockets and was told to show his hands. The man stepped toward the officer as he pulled his hands from his pocket and attempted to stab the officer with a knife that he had been concealing in his pocket.

The CBP officer was able to block the stabbing attempt. With the assistance of other officers the man was taken into custody. The man was identified an 18-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of Wilcox, Ariz.

CBP officers turned the man over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation and prosecution. The man was charged with assault on a federal officer.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a settlement with Washington state-based Rena Ware International, Inc., which “made fraudulent and unethical claims” that its high-priced cookware could cure diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The company agreed to pay more than $600,000 in refunds and other fees.

“This company made fraudulent and unethical claims that its products cured serious diseases,” Brown said. “Their illegal, high-pressure sales tactics preyed on the fears of vulnerable Californians.”

Rena Ware targeted Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Los Angeles-area to sell its high-priced cookware. Sales representatives employed deception to enter people’s homes — claiming to offer health and nutrition information, to be taking an opinion poll, or to be willing to service the consumer’s current cookware.

Once inside the home, the representatives claimed the consumer’s cookware caused a variety of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart problems. The representatives claimed Rena Ware’s products were not only safe to use but could actually cure some of these diseases.

Consumers who were persuaded to buy the products were often enticed into financing plans with a rate of more than 21% a year. Sales representatives often did not tell consumers they had a three day cooling-off-period to change their minds and cancel the order, a right California law guarantees all consumers who buy products from door-to-door salespeople.

Rena Ware sent consumers harassing debt collection notices purportedly signed by an attorney, but no attorney had signed the notices or seen customers’ files to verify whether the debts were actually owed. The purpose of the notices was sheer intimidation.

In late 2008, a Rena Ware International sales representative went to the home of Mercedes Ballestero in Los Angeles. The representative requested an in-home demonstration to show off Rena Ware’s products and put to shame Ms. Ballestero’s current cookware. The representative claimed Rena Ware’s products could reduce high blood pressure by removing hormones from meat as it cooked. Ms. Ballestero bought a set of Rena Ware cookware for more than $1,500 with a hidden interest rate of 21.5 percent. After discovering the high interest rate, Ms. Ballestero canceled her contract, but the company refused to return her deposit.

Today’s agreement requires Rena Ware to pay $135,400 in penalties, $250,000 in refunds to consumers, and $239,600 in other costs.

Rena Ware must also obtain an independent monitor to ensure the company refrains from using false information or high-pressure sales tactics to lure customers.

Brown’s office was joined in today’s agreement by the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs assisted in the investigation.

In 2008, Brown obtained a judgment against Hy Cite Corporation for similar misrepresentations in the sale of its “Royal Prestige” line of cookware. Hy Cite was required to pay more than $1.3 million in penalties, restitution and costs, agreed to three years of independent monitoring, and forced to change its business practices.

Rena Ware customers who are eligible for a refund will be contacted by mail, and any consumers who feel they have been victimized by Rena Ware International, Inc. or other houseware companies may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit at, or by calling (800) 952-5225.

Copies of the complaint and settlement, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, are attached.

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