Your weekly ScamWatch


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Here’s a weekly roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Don’t accept this check — People selling items on websites such as Craigslist should be careful not to accept checks from the federal Securities Investor Protection Corp. agency as payment, the agency said. Con artists have been submitting fake checks, purportedly from the SIPC, to purchase items advertised on the Web, the agency warned. The SIPC maintains a reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect consumers in the event a brokerage firm becomes insolvent. It never issues checks to pay for items or services sold on the Internet, SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said.

U.S. shuts down telemarketer — A telemarketing company accused of making millions of deceptive prerecorded telephone calls to consumers between 2007 and 2009 has agreed to pay a $2.3-million fine and refrain from telemarketing in the future under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had accused Damian Kohlfeld and his two Illinois-based companies of attempting to deceive consumers into buying extended automobile warranties or service contracts by falsely claiming that their warranties were about to expire.


Fake cancer drugs — A Canadian man was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for selling counterfeit cancer drugs over the Internet. Hazim Gaber, 21, of Edmonton, Canada, was indicted in 2009 on five counts of wire fraud for selling the fake drugs through the website Gaber pleaded guilty in May, admitting that he sold the phony drugs to at least 65 victims in the United States and four other countries in 2007. He had promised to ship customers the highly sought-after experimental drug sodium dichloroacetate, also called DCA, but instead he sent a white powdery substance that contained starch, dextrin or lactose, the FBI said in a news release. Gaber was sentenced Wednesday in Phoenix.

Recycling fraud charges — The owner and two managers of a San Jose-based electronic waste recycling company face fraud and other charges for allegedly overstating the amount of waste they processed in an attempt to collect $1 million in fees. Joseph Chen, the owner of Tung Tai Group, and managers John Chen and Jason Huang face a combined 17 criminal charges, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in a news release. Tung Tai Group collects electronic waste such as televisions and computer monitors, breaks it down and delivers it to a state recycling center. The three men could not be reached for comment.

-- Stuart Pfeifer