La Colaborativa advocates for consumers in Chelsea as a Local Consumer Program through the Attorney General’s Office. Our team works to spread consumer awareness and outreach, resolve consumer disputes, and hold educational events in our communities. Consumer Protection activities can help consumers with a variety of issues including defective products, auto matters, debt collection, landlord-tenant disputes, mortgages, home improvement contract issues, and utilities.
Unfortunately, our Latinx, immigrant, and low-income communities are often targets of fraud, theft and other consumer crimes. Many of our members feel vulnerable as immigrants or non-English speakers and are often reluctant to come forward as victims of crimes.
La Colaborativa raises community-wide awareness of common scams targeting consumers and provides advocacy and 1:1 case support to our members to resolve consumer complaints. We were selected to partner with the AGO on this initiative given our existing relationships in the community and reputation as a trusted partner with the Latinx immigrant community.
Recent Consumer Cases & Scam Alerts
Ukraine Relief Scams - Las Estafas Relacionadas con Ucrania
La reciente guerra en Ucrania está llamando mucho la atención. Desafortunadamente, los criminales cibernéticos a menudo toman ventaja de los eventos mundiales para atacar tus emociones. Ahora más que nunca, es importante estar pendiente a los ataques de phishing y a las campañas de desinformación.
Los criminales cibernéticos pueden utilizar diferentes tácticas para estafarte. Por ejemplo, los criminales cibernéticos pueden tratar de conseguir que envíes dinero usando criptodivisa. Los criminales cibernéticos pueden tomar ventaja de tu sincero pesar haciéndose pasar por ucranianos necesitados de ayuda económica.
Los criminales cibernéticos también pueden capturar tu atención y manipular tus emociones regando desinformación. La desinformación es información falsa creada para engañarte intencionalmente. Los criminales cibernéticos riegan la desinformación en forma de correos electrónicos, mensajes de texto o publicaciones en las redes sociales.
No caigas con estas estafas. Sigue los consejos a continuación para mantenerte seguro:
• Evita hacer donativos a usuarios desconocidos. Si quieres donar para apoyar una causa, dona directamente a través de la página web confiable de la organización.
• Ten cuidado con los nombres de usuario en las redes sociales que consisten únicamente de letras y números al azar. Puede que estas cuentas no estén administradas por usuarios legítimos.
• Mantente informado siguiendo fuentes noticiosas confiables. Si ves un titular sensacionalista, asegúrate de investigar para verificar que la noticia sea legítima.
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The recent war in Ukraine has gathered a lot of attention. Unfortunately, cybercriminals often take advantage of world events to prey on your emotions. Now more than ever, it’s important to watch out for phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns.
Cybercriminals may use several different tactics to scam you. For example, cybercriminals may try to trick you into sending money using cryptocurrency. The cybercriminals may take advantage of your sympathy by pretending to be Ukrainians in need of financial assistance.
Cybercriminals may also try to catch your attention and manipulate your emotions by spreading disinformation. Disinformation is false information designed to intentionally mislead you. Cybercriminals may spread disinformation in the form of emails, text messages, or social media posts.
Don’t fall for these scams. Follow the tips below to stay safe:
• Avoid making donations to unknown users. If you would like to donate to support a cause, donate directly through a trusted organization’s website.
• Watch out for social media usernames that only consist of random letters and numbers. These accounts may be run by bots instead of legitimate users.
• Stay informed by following trusted news sources. If you see a sensational headline, be sure to do research to verify that the news story is legitimate.
La Colaborativa mobilized victims of the TelexFree scam to file complaints and testify. Our Executive Director Gladys Vega testified on behalf of 1,500 victims in Chelsea and surrounding towns who were impacted by the $3 billion scheme. Many lost their entire life savings. Our work was featured on CNBC’s American Greed.
Several years ago, La Colaborativa became aware of a travel agency, Oasis Travel, selling airline tickets to consumers but when they arrived at the airport for their trips they found that the airline had no record of their tickets or payments. Oasis Travel particularly targeted immigrants by marketing airline tickets for them to return to visit their home countries. In this case, we advocated for victims and helped them navigate the process of receiving compensation through mediation between the court and the victims.
Payment Plus is a local agency that was taking payments from immigrant consumers, with the promise to pay their utility bills for them and send money to their relatives in their home countries. But the payments were never made to the companies or families. La Colaborativa worked closely with the Attorney General’s Consumer Affairs Department to mediate and successfully resolve the utility cases by calling larger meetings with the utility companies and asking them to reinstate the consumers’ services — including electricity, gas, and cable — and to forgive the unpaid balances given the circumstances. In the cases of money paid by consumers to be sent to relatives in their home countries, the mediation process is ongoing, and these are still open cases.
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