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  "The true Black Church (body of true believers) is yet faithful to those things that ...
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By Denise Rolark-Barnes, Chairperson, NNPA and Benjamin F. Chavis President/CEO, NNPA) Denise Rolark-Barnes Ben Chavis Hundreds of newspapers have ...

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Debt Collector Returns $2.7 Million to Victims

Posted by Admin On April - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Just last week, the FTC mailed checks returning money to more than 5,200 people, thanks to the FTC’s settlement with Rincon Debt Management. People who lost money are getting back the full amount of the fraudulent fees they were charged – an average of $525 – which adds up to more than $2.7 million.

A few years ago, at the FTC’s request, a court shut down the debt collection business, Rincon Management Services LLC, and banned the owners from doing debt collection ever again. The company’s employees had used illegal and abusive practices, threatening people – in both English and Spanish – with arrest and lawsuits if they didn’t pay. They even added fraudulent charges onto people’s debt. This settlement, which required Rincon to repay those fraudulent charges, is part of the FTC’s ongoing enforcement actions to stop abusive and illegal debt collection practices.

If you get a check, you have 60 days to cash it. Questions about this refund? Check with the FTC’s refund administrator, Analytics at (844) 330-6742, or go online.

If you’re ever contacted by a debt collector, know your rights. And if you think a collector has violated those rights, tell the FTC.

Chicago Police Clash With New Era Detroit and New Era Chicago

Posted by Admin On April - 6 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
From: New Era Detroit

CHICAGO, IL – Several members of New Era Detroit (NED) and New Era Chicago (NEC)–the flagship chapters of the New Era Nation–were violently attacked and arrested by officers of the Chicago Police Department during their first Hood2Hood community engagement program this past weekend.

 

The planned event was going well. NED and NEC members had spent the day cleaning and removing blight from several Chicago neighborhoods. They spoke to several residents and delivered a message of unity, hope, and empowerment. They also denounced the self-destructive violence impacting Chicagoans and other communities of color around the country. “Love of self” was the message of the day; it was black, it was beautiful, and it was peaceful.

 

That’s when the Chicago police arrived and everything changed.

 

Witnesses reported that between 30-45 police officers, without provocation or warning, began beating members with their clubs, taking and destroying all Pan-African flags, screaming profanities, racial slurs, and shoving anyone in the area not wearing a police uniform. Some officers deployed their department issued Tasers. Others pointed their guns at anyone who wasn’t law enforcement. A Chicago fireman heard an officer issue a warning to the group: “This ends today. You guys and your fucking flags. Expect this every time we see you!”

 

Nine individuals were arrested and charged with felony counts of Aggravated Battery of a Peace Officer. Five were released the same day. However, four members of the Detroit chapter–Zeek, Momma K, Cody, and Ron–remain in Chicago police custody. Each of the arrestee’s ten percent bonds have been set for $30,000 to $50,000.

 

The Detroit chapter’s legal team was able to secure legal assistance through attorneys from the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild who have committed to providing on-going legal support for those charged with felonies.

 

“This is why we exist”, Attorney Max Suchan, Chicago-NLG Mass Defense Coordinator, said. “We are dedicated to helping groups who are doing movement work whenever we can.”

 

To make a donation to New Era Detroit’s Bond Fund click

here. For more information, contact the organization here or via our Facebook page.

 

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of New Era Detroit and not those of www.copylinemagazine.com.

 

 

Utility Disconnections Leave Thousands Around the Nation “Out in the Cold” or Left in the Dark

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

NAACP report outlines disproportionate impact of utility shut-offs on poor and African American communities

BALTIMORE, MD –According to a new report from the NAACP, utility company shut off policies disproportionately impact low-income and African American communities, literally leaving thousands in the dark, stranded in the cold during winter or severely impacted by sweltering summer temperatures.

With 2016 on record as the hottest year to date, and January of this year documented as the 3rdhottest January on record, many are looking at the coming summer and winter months with fear and dread regarding the potential for utility shut-offs, that leave a disproportionate number of African American and poor communities in the dark and out in the cold.

““The life-threatening fact that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, means climate change and global warming are painful household realities for those whose heat, air-conditioning and power are shut off. Dangerous and unnecessary shut offs in the sweltering heat and frigid cold disproportionately impact the poor, the elderly and communities of color,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks. “The measure of our great nation is not unreasoned and unrestrained profitability but rather reasoned solutions and unrestrained compassion for vulnerable populations. This report is inspired by such compassion and offers such solutions,” emphasized NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

The report issued by the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program (ECJP) shows lower income communities spend a greater portion of income on electricity and heating costs than high-income communities. African Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-African Americans and spend a significantly higher fraction of their household income on electricity and heating as non-African Americans, who spend more on energy used in the production and consumption of goods.

Since African Americans make up a higher percentage of low-income households, their vulnerability to high energy prices and in turn utility disconnections is exacerbated at levels disproportionate to other groups due to rate hikes or swings in weather.

The NAACP’s ECJP in analyzing state policies concerning utility shut-offs, showed:

• customers with limited income bear a disproportionate burden of energy bills;
• disconnections have a disparate impact on low-income communities and communities of color;
• customers may be reliant on utility services for medical devices and life-supporting systems;
• vulnerable customers’ use of hazardous heating, cooling, and lighting measures can have harmful and even fatal results.

NAACP ECJP also highlights the inconsistencies in state shut-off polices, which makes it tougher to implement national utility reforms. States and the District of Columbia are uniform only in the fact that all are required to send out disconnection notices, yet:

• 7 states offer no payment plans to cure delinquency;
• 8 states have no medical protection policies on affecting disconnection of services;
• 11 states have no disconnection limitation polices;
• 14 states have no date-based protection policies. Date based – set specific dates of when customers cannot without due diligence be disconnected from a utility service;
• 28 states have no temperature-based policies: Meaning regardless of how cold it becomes, utilities can be shut-off;
• 11 states have no disconnection limitations; and
• 36 states have reconnection fees.

These inconsistencies in consumer protections result in thousands of individuals and families each year ending up with no heat or power in their homes during the worst of times.

Unfortunately, these numbers are slated to expand tremendously due to President Donald Trump’s proposed elimination of the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The elimination of LIHEAP would disparately impact over a million African Americans, and nearly 7 million Americans who utilize LIHEAP. 

SAMPLE ESTIMATES OF STATES AFFECTED BY ELIMINATING LIHEAP

 

Iowa – 85,777 households

Michigan – 623,549 households

Ohio – 454,520 households

Pennsylvania – 391,461 households

Wisconsin – 214,531 households

*Climate Nexus

“Caught between a rock and a hard place, low-income families across the country are often faced with tough choices between putting food on the table, paying for medicine and lighting and/or heating their homes.” said Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program. “In researching this report, we’ve seen too many cases where poverty ends up being a death sentence when circumstances result in fatally perilous choices.

For Arizona native Amy Mays whose struggles with utility shut-off and path to energy independence are profiled in the report, new policies are needed immediately.

“We need these solutions sooner rather than later, because climate change is going to make these issues worse. Extreme weather events, like dangerously hot and cold days, are projected to increase as a result of climate change – stretching ratepayer’s pockets and putting them at even greater risk if their power is shut off. ”

The amount owed by low-income customers for unpaid utilities often has a minimal impact on company finances.

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (First Energy) 2015-2016

Executive Base Salary    Total Compensation     Pay Increase

1  $ 1,118,558.00     $ 4,238,701.00         $ 3,120,143.00 

2 $ 636,154.00       $ 2,339,431.00          $ 1,703,277.00 

3 $ 510,231.00        $ 7,054,125.00          $ 6,543,894.00 

4 $ 752,789.00        $ 3,004,793.00         $ 2,252,004.00 

5 $ 599,176.00         $ 2,135,552.00          $ 1,536,376.00 

6 $ 552,404.00        $ 2,017,272.00          $ 1,464,868.00 

Total $ 4,169,312.00   $ 20,789,874.00   $  16,620,562.00 

A study of utility costs and spending in Cleveland, OH found that while customers with Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company who were facing disconnection owed nearly $12.3 million in unpaid bills between 2014 and 2015, the top executives for the same company were paid more than $16.6 million in performance bonuses.

Total Service Disconnections for Nonpayment

Jun 2014 – May 2015

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company  14,594

Columbia Gas of Ohio  92,313

Dominion East Ohio  62,398

Orwell Natural Gas  $216

Total  169,521

SOLUTIONS

According to the NAACP, there are several solutions that can implemented by states and utilities to begin to decrease the impact of shut-offs among poor and communities of color. The solution strategy begins with the establishment of a universal right to uninterrupted energy service, which would ensure that provisions are in place to prevent utility disconnection due to non-payment and arrearages.

The NAACP ECJP also calls for a moratorium on utility shut-offs and calls for utility companies to incorporate a basic set of principles into their policies including:

• Secure ACCESS to utility services for all households;
• INCLUSION of all customers in the development of utility policies and regulations;
• TRANSPARENCY of the actions of and information held by utility companies, regulating bodies; legislatures, and utility affiliated organizations;
• PROTECTION of the human and civil rights of all customers; and
• Advance programs that help ELIMINATE POVERTY, so that all customers can pay utility bills.

“We can create more humane policies but it will involve a greater number of activists and individuals from communities disparately affected by cut-off policies,” said Jacqui Patterson.

“Through directly engaging elected officials, utility companies and local legislators, we can get the type of solutions listed in the report passed into law and in doing so change this nation for the better” she added.

Copies of the “Lights Out in the Cold” report can be found on our website at naacp.org

Click here or email mrussell@naacpnet.org

Shooting, Lack of Oversight Stain Chicago ICE Office

Posted by Admin On March - 31 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

From: Latino Union.Org

Community organizations prepare mass meeting to Expand Sanctuary in Chicago

This week, an immigration agent under direction of Chicago ICE Director Ricardo Wong shot an unarmed man inside his home.  

Just days earlier, several residents who were racially profiled and wrongfully detained last August received notice that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is refusing to intervene in their case.The following are statements from local immigrant rights organizations in response:

Analía Rodríguez, Executive Director of Latino Union

“This shooting and the rejection of our racial profiling complaint are not a mistake – they are a direct result of the lawless, unaccountable group of agents that Wong has created. Communities of color need freedom and safety in our homes and workplaces. Instead, the Chicago ICE office is detaining men for nothing more than appearing to be Latino while waiting for work. ICE is not about public safety – it is a public danger.”

Organized Communities Against Deportations

“The Chicago ICE office and its director, Ricardo Wong, have repeatedly planned and executed violent raids in our homes and in our workplaces. They have rejected our racial profiling complaint proving yet again that Ricardo Wong’s ICE office has no accountability to the public, and offers no recourse to the people it targets. We will nevertheless continue to shed light on their abuses and organize our community to defend and protect each other. The City of Chicago must also take concrete steps to pass a Welcoming City ordinance with absolutely no carve outs. On April 8, dozens of local groups will gather for Expand Sanctuary in Chicago, a community action meeting about the campaign to expand sanctuary protections for all Chicagoans.”

Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Assassination Marked by New Level of Unity Among Labor, Black Lives Matter and Immigrant Rights Groups in Chicago

Posted by Admin On March - 29 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Under the rubric, “Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild,” a new Chicago coalition will host a Citywide teach-in the evening of April 4th at the headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Event will include speeches by local activists, a tribute to Dr. King’s commitment to racial and economic justice, information on organizing in other cities and music by the hip hop duo, Rebel Diaz.

More than 30 Chicago area labor and progressive organizations have been meeting on the south side since November to map a new plan of action to resist the current climate of xenophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant sentiments. We include Arab and Muslim organizations, LGBTQIA groups, immigrant rights groups, workers centers, low wage worker organizers, youth groups, grassroots and cultural workers from various communities, labor unions, women’s groups and Black Lives Matter organizations.

  • No deportations
  • No Muslim ban
  • No racist police violence
  • Yes to workers rights, living wage jobs, unionization and the Fight for 15
  • Yes to all rights for women and LGBTQIA people in our communities

This event will build for planned actions on May Day, in coordination with others, and as a part of a nationwide united front project called “Beyond the Moment,” initiated by the Movement for Black Lives and partner groups, which marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech where he condemned militarism and materialism and called for a “radical revolution of our values” as a nation. We will join the rally and march beginning in Union Park in Chicago on May 1 at 1:00 p.m.

All are welcome but registration is recommended: https://citywideteachin.eventbrite.com
Those interested can follow us on Facebook for more details and updates.
https://www.facebook.com/Resist-Reimagine-Rebuild-Chicago-717202298452091/

Lies, Threats, Debt Collection: Tale of a Few Cities

Posted by Admin On March - 27 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

When a debt collector harasses and threatens you, it can be downright distressing – and illegal.

The FTC announced a complaint and settlement with American Municipal Services Corporation (AMS), which collects debts for cities and towns. The FTC alleges AMS made false threats and misrepresentations to get people to pay, and under the terms of the settlement, they’ll have to stop. The FTC says AMS threatened people would be arrested, have their driver’s licenses suspended, have their vehicles impounded, and have their debts reported to credit bureaus. Using names like “Warrant Enforcement Division,” AMS made people think these letters came directly from government authorities, according to the FTC.

But the FTC says AMS broke the law when collecting those debts. AMS had no power to jail people, nor did they actually know whether municipalities really intended to do so. In addition to stopping these deceptive and illegal acts, the order requires AMS to give up collection fees obtained using these tactics.

Under federal law, debt collectors cannot:

  • falsely claim to be law enforcement officers
  • falsely claim you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay
  • threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your assets — unless they legally can and intend to do so
  • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company
  • use a fake company name

If it’s a personal or household debt, it’s illegal for debt collectors to:

  • call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • contact you at work if you’ve told them verbally or in writing that your employer doesn’t allow such calls
  • contact a third party about you for any reason other than getting your contact information
  • harass you or anyone else they contact about you

Learn more about your rights when facing debt collection.

Civil Rights Groups Discuss Legislative and Policy Agenda with Senate Democratic Leader

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Civil Rights Groups Discuss Legislative and Policy Agenda with Senate Democratic Leader Share Their Opposition to Gorsuch, ACA Repeal and Budget Cuts

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Civil rights leaders met with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss key policy issues and express their shared opposition to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the ACA repeal bill, and the Administration’s economic agenda.

Attendees included: Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League; Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president, National Action Network; and Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable.

“As always, we thank Senator Schumer for his attention to our priorities,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.  “When we met with him in January we shared our collective concerns for what may come in this new Congress and Administration.  Now, our worst fears are being realized as the latest assaults from lawmakers and the President threaten to devastate our way of life. Our civil rights and our judicial system are experiencing one rollback after another, from the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, to the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the proposal of a skinny budget, we are witnessing an erosion of the progress we’ve made thus far. We implore Senator Schumer to continue to do what he can to guarantee the continuance and advancement of our great democracy.”

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “We look forward to working with leaders across Congress to promote legislative action that safeguards and protects civil rights. It is time for Congress to move forward with long overdue criminal justice reform, which enjoys bi-partisan support. It is also time for Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act, following the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  We also will continue to look closely at nominees that come before Congress to ensure that these individuals are prepared to move our nation forward.”

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to continue the conversation with Leader Schumer to discuss the agenda of the national civil rights community,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.  “With the many troubling actions being taken by the Trump administration and Congress, it is reassuring that Senator Schumer is willing to stand up for the civil and human rights of all.  Just some of the issues we are concerned about include the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and increase the number of uninsured by 24 million people, and a proposed budget that slashes resources devoted to critical job training, education, and social service programs that serve low-income, working and middle class people.”

“We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Senator Schumer and to discuss a number of LDF’s priorities, including our opposition to the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch whose record raises deep concerns about how he will approach key civil rights protections, as well as the need to advance economic and infrastructure policies that ensure equal economic opportunity and mobility for all Americans,” said NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill.

Reverend Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network said, “We challenged Senator Schumer to continue to strive to get the Senate Democrats to block any vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch until the investigation of Russian ties into the elections of 2016 are completed.  It is a civil right that our votes not be interfered with by foreign governments. I urged Senator Schumer to unequivocally block the Health Care bill that will upend what millions of Americans now enjoy as a result of the Affordable Care Act and stressed that people must receive quality health care based upon their infirmities, not upon their income.”

“The meeting with Senator Schumer was very encouraging and offered my civil rights colleagues and I a vitally important opportunity to present our key policy priorities and concerns for the 115th Congress,” said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable. “The National Coalition and the Black Women’s Roundtable are especially concerned about the plans by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no viable replacement, leaving more than 24 million Americans without insurance coverage. In particular, we fear that African American women, seniors and our families, will suffer greatly as a result of this repeal.  We simply cannot afford to let this happen to the American people.”

The group also requested a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

K. Kim Atterbury, National Urban League, (202) 629-5750, katterbury@nul.org

Nikki Thompson, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, (202) 662-8382, nthompson@lawyerscommittee.org

Shin Inouye, The Leadership Conference, (202) 869-0398, Inouye@civilrights.org

Melanie Newman, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, (202) 682-1300, mnewman@naacpldf.org

Rachel Noerdlinger, National Action Network, (212) 681-1380, rnoerdlinger@mercuryllc.com

Lon Walls, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, (301) 966-1669, Lwalls@wallscomm.com

Illinois Women March on Springfield April 25 for Progressive Agenda, Responsible Budget

Posted by Admin On March - 21 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

More than 50 organizations have joined a coalition to educate and organize around dozens of progressive bills being proposed in the Illinois House and Senate this session.

They will bring together people across the state for the Illinois Women March on Springfield for a progressive agenda and responsible budget for all, Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The bills include the Women’s Agenda, the People’s Agenda of labor issues, plus issues including immigration, homelessness, criminal legal reform, the environment, LGBTQ, gun safety efforts, healthcare, economics, education and passing a responsible budget in Illinois.

The complete agenda, with more bills expected, is available on the March website: http://www.illinoiswomenmarchonspringfield.org.

The march is in the spirit of the Jan. 21 women’s marches around the world, and just as those events attracted a wide diversity of people, the Springfield event is expected to bring together thousands of people across a range of intersectional issues.

The program will start at noon with a rally in front of the Lincoln statue at the Capitol Building, followed by a march around the capitol complex, and lobbying elected officials inside. At 2:30 p.m., there will be a final rally in the rotunda, including next steps on organizing support for the legislation still pending in Springfield. People are encouraged to make April 25 appointments now with their representatives and senators, and lobby for legislation from now until the end of May, when this session ends.

Illinois Women March on Springfield is co-chaired by Jaquie Algee (SEIU Healthcare and Women’s March on Chicago), Tracy Baim (Windy City Times and Pride Action Tank), and from Springfield, Jennifer Camille Lee (Action Illinois and Women Rising-Illinois).

Other partners for the March include the Chicago Foundation for Women, Crossroads Fund, Indivisible Illinois, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Illinois NOW, CAIR-Chicago, Amalgamated Transit Union 308 (ATU), AFSCME, Chicago Women Take Action, G-PAC, Citizen Action, OFA, Mujeras Latinas en Accion, National Immigrant Justice Center, Sergeant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Women Employed, Women’s March Illinois, and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. See many more online.

The website has a process where organizations and elected officials can join the effort, and people can suggest legislation. It also will have lobbying tips, and connections to how-to-find-your-legislator.

Website: http://www.illinoiswomenmarchonspringfield.org/ .

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Illinois-Women-March-on-Springfield-1293918460687078/ .

Binary Options Fraud: A Word of Warning to the Investing Public

Posted by Admin On March - 15 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Stock options. It’s a pretty common investment term meaning, in general, that one party sells or offers to another party the opportunity to invest by buying a particular stock at an agreed upon price within a certain period of time. All perfectly legal and highly regulated—and if the investor takes advantage of the opportunity and the stock performs well, there’s money to be made. And if the stock doesn’t perform well, the investor knew the risk.

But here’s another similar-sounding financial term that the public should be wary of—binary options. While some binary options are listed on registered exchanges or traded on a designated contract market and are subject to oversight by U.S. regulators like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), much of the binary options market operates through websites that don’t comply with U.S. regulations. And many of those unregulated websites are being used by criminals outside the U.S. as vehicles to commit fraud.

Binary options fraud is a growing problem and one that the FBI currently has in its crosshairs. In 2011, our Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received four complaints—with reported losses of just more than $20,000—from binary options fraud victims. Fast forward five years, and the IC3 received hundreds of complaints with millions of dollars in reported losses during 2016. And those numbers only reflect victims who reported being fleeced to the IC3—the true extent of the fraud, which has victims around the world, isn’t fully known. Some European countries have reported that binary options fraud complaints now constitute 25 percent of all the fraud complaints received.

What exactly is a binary option? It’s a type of options contract in which the payout depends entirely on the outcome of a yes/no proposition, typically related to whether the price of a particular asset—like a stock or a commodity—will rise above or fall below a specified amount. Unlike regular stock options, with binary options you’re not being given the opportunity to actually buy a stock or a commodity—you’re just betting on whether its price will be above or below a certain amount by a certain time of the day.

For example: You expect the price of an individual stock will be above $80 at 3:30 p.m. today. So you buy a binary option that allows you to place this bet at a cost of $60. If, at 3:30 p.m., the stock price is $80.01, your payout is $100, for a profit of $40. If the price of the stock at 3:30 is $79.99, you lose your $60. Of course, you can buy multiple binary options, which can significantly increase your winnings as well as your losses.

So where does the fraud come into it? The perpetrators behind many of the binary options websites, primarily criminals located overseas, are only interested in one thing—taking your money. Complaints about their activities generally fall into one of three categories:

The perpetrators behind many of the binary options websites, primarily criminals located overseas, are only interested in one thing—taking your money.

  • Refusal to credit customer accounts or reimburse funds to customers. This is usually done by cancelling customers’ withdrawal requests, ignoring customer phone calls and e-mails, and sometimes even freezing accounts and accusing the customers themselves of fraud.
  • Identity theft. Representatives of binary options websites may falsely claim that the government requires photocopies of your credit card, passport, driver’s license, utility bills, or other personal data. This information could potentially be used to steal your identity.
  • Manipulation of trading software. Some of these Internet trading platforms may be reconfiguring the algorithms they use in order to purposely generate losing trades, often by distorting prices and payouts. For example, if a customer has a winning trade, the expiration time is extended until the trade becomes a loss.

Fraudulent binary options website operators go to great lengths to recruit investors. They advertise their platforms—often on social networking sites, various trading websites, message boards, and spam e-mail—with big promises of easy money, low risk, and superior customer service. Potential investors are also cold-called from boiler room operations, where high-pressure salespeople use banks of phones to make as many calls as possible to offer “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities.

What’s being done to combat binary options fraud? The FBI currently has a number of ongoing binary options fraud cases, working with partners like the CFTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). And this past January, the Bureau organized the 2017 Binary Options Fraud Summit held at Europol in The Hague, bringing together law enforcement and regulators from throughout North America and Europe to discuss the growing binary options fraud problem.

Special Agent Milan Kosanovich, who works out of our Criminal Investigative Division’s Complex Financial Crimes Unit, was one of the FBI’s representatives at this gathering. “The summit,” he said, “gave all of us the chance to sit down and talk about what we’ve discovered through our respective binary options fraud investigations, where the challenges are, and how we can all work together.”

One of the biggest challenges law enforcement faces, according to Kosanovich, is the fact that the scammers are sophisticated and have operations spanning multiple countries. “So the key to addressing this type of fraud,” he continued, “is national and international coordination between regulatory agencies, law enforcement, and the financial industry.”

Another important factor, said Kosanovich, is investor awareness and education. “Investors need to be aware of the significant potential for fraud on binary options websites, and they need to make sure they do their due diligence before ever placing that first trade or bet.”

What Can You Do to Avoid Being Victimized

  • Make sure that the binary options trading platform you’re interested in has registered its offer and sale of its products with the SEC. (Registration provides investors with key information about the terms of the products being offered). To do this, you can use the Security Exchange Commission’s (SEC) EDGAR Company Filing website.
  • Check to see if the trading platform itself is registered as an exchange at the SEC’s Exchanges website.
  • Ensure that the trading platform is a designated contract market by checking the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CTFC) Designated Contract Markets website. Thousands of entities promote binary options trading in the U.S., but only two are currently authorized to do so by the CFTC.
  • Check out the registration status and background of any firm or financial professional you are considering dealing with. You can do this through the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency’s BrokerCheck website and the National Futures Association Background Affiliation Status Information Center.
  • Take a look at the CFTC’s RED List, which contains the names of unregistered foreign entities that CFTC has reason to believe are soliciting and accepting funds from U.S. residents at a retail level for, among other things, binary options.
  • Finally, don’t invest in something you don’t understand. If you can’t explain the investment opportunity in a few words and in an understandable way, you may need to reconsider the potential investment.

Source: Investor.gov (SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy/CFTC’s Office of Consumer Outreach)

Source: FBI

Attorney General Madigan Collects Nearly $1 Billion in State Revenue in 2016

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Recoveries for state pension systems brings total pension recoveries

by Attorney General Madigan to over $400 million

 

CHICAGO, IL — Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced her office collected $989,858,586 in revenue on behalf of the state through litigation and collection efforts in 2016. Since Madigan took office, her office has collected over $13 billion on behalf of the state.

 

“I am committed to continuing my work to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for Illinois during this terrible fiscal crisis that has harmed our state,” Madigan said. “In total, I have brought in more than $13 billion for the state since I took office including millions of dollars in funding for our state’s pension systems.”

 

The revenue collected by Madigan in 2016 included $47.5 million for Illinois’ pension systems from settlements with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs for the investment banks’ misconduct in its marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities leading up to the 2008 economic collapse. The settlement with Goldman Sachs also included $16 million in consumer relief. In addition to those settlements, Madigan has reached five other settlements relating to investments in mortgage-backed securities that have secured over $400 million of relief for the pension systems.

 

In addition, Madigan’s office collected over $346 million through collections litigation, including cases involving the collection of funds for damage to state property, child support enforcement, fines and penalties. Madigan also collected more than $278 million through tobacco litigation and more than $317 million in estate tax revenues.

 

 

 

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