Your Weekly ScamWatch
Check your phone bill — A federal judge has ordered a San Francisco company to stop its telemarketing operations, saying the company charged consumers millions of dollars for Internet services they did not order. The judge also ordered Inc21.com Corp. to pay nearly $38 million in restitution to consumers. The Federal Trade Commission had accused the company of operating a "cramming" operation in which unauthorized charges were placed on phone bills. Both the FTC and Better Business Bureau have issued warnings about the practice.
Firefighter charity — A Santa Ana charity that raised money for burn victims but spent most of its proceeds on expenses and meetings in resort locations has agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. The Assn. for Firefighters and Paramedics Inc. was accused of misleading the public about what it would do with donations, diverting $33,000 to pay for out-of-town meetings in San Diego and Las Vegas and a Caribbean cruise for board members. As part of the settlement, the group agreed to have its marketing material closely monitored by Brown's office.
Commodities fund frozen — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has obtained a court order freezing the assets of People's Alternative Inc., a commodities fund that raised about $1.2 million from dozens of investors since 2008. The commission has accused the pool's operators of failing to disclose how they were investing the money and of spending at least $533,000 on personal expenses, including mortgage payments, entertainment and travel.
-- Stuart Pfeifer