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Your weekly ScamWatch

December 5, 2010 |  6:01 am

Payday loan scheme – Scammers have been making threatening telephone calls to urge victims to make payments on loans that did not exist, the Internet Crime Complaint Center cautioned in a recent notice. The callers contact people at home, at work and on their mobile telephones, demanding repayment for allegedly past-due loans. In many cases, the callers have personal information about their targets’ dates of birth, social security numbers and bank accounts. Anyone who receives such a call should contact their local police department and alert their banks and the three major credit bureaus to watch for potential fraud, the agency said.

Counterfeit goods – The Justice Department has obtained court orders shutting down 82 websites that were allegedly marketing counterfeit clothing, sunglasses, sports equipment and DVDs. Federal agents said they bought goods from the sites and determined them to be counterfeit. The domain names of the sites were seized by court order. “We have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items, while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain,” Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said.

Beverly Hills woman accused – Federal agents have arrested a Beverly Hills woman on federal wire fraud charges for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that collected nearly $11 million from investors who thought she was investing in settlement annuities. Rosi Ray, 56, told investors she would use their money to purchase annuities that were part of legal settlements and then sell them at a profit, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Instead she spent the money to make “interest” payments to early investors, to finance her son’s drag-racing career and on personal expenses, prosecutors alleged. Ray, who was arrested Thursday, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bank manager charged – The assistant manager of a Citibank branch in the town of Ceres, near Fresno, has been accused of embezzling more than $217,000 and using her position to conceal the thefts for nearly a year. A federal grand jury in Fresno indicted Norma Pena, 37, alleging embezzlement by a bank employee. She is accused of taking the money between March 2009 and February 2010 at a Citibank in Ceres and of trying to hide the theft by filing reports that she had transferred the money to automatic teller machine vaults. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1-million fine.

-- Stuart Pfeifer