On Sunday, September 22, 2013, United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. hosted a “Consumer Protection Workshop” at the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, in Rowland Heights, California. The Consumer Protection Workshop was an interactive event for the community to help educate, raise awareness and provide resources to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. The event featured a panel of consumer protection experts: Randy Stokes, Acting, Inspector In Charge for the Postal Inspection Service, Los Angeles Division; Thomas Syta, Assistant Regional Director for the Federal Trade Commission; Rigoberto Reyes, Chief, Investigations of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs; Sandor E. Samuels, President and CEO of Bet Tzedek; Vince Farhat, pro-bono attorney for Bet Tzedek and Partner at Holland & Knight; and Sergeant Mike Abdeen, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Three AUSAs from the CAC’s Riverside office also made presentations: Chief, AUSA Antoine Raphael, Deputy Chief, AUSA Joseph Widman, and AUSA Daniel Ackerman. In addition to the panel discussion that covered the following topics: mail fraud, elder financial fraud, health care fraud, and identity theft, the Workshop also included consumer information tables and complaint counseling. CAC’s Victims/Witness Coordinator Jeff Alabaso participated and provided copies of the 2013 Consumer Action Handbook. Gymeka Williams, Community Relations Specialist for the CAC planned and organized the event.
The 2013 Consumer Protection Workshop is part of the efforts of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Working Group (the CPWG). The CPWG is part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force which was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. U.S. Attorney Birotte is one of the Co-Chairs of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s Consumer Protection Working Group. The CPWG brings together federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, regulators, and other stakeholders to protect consumers from fraud that can devastate victims and cause widespread economic harm. Through this partnership, the CPWG is working to strengthen consumer protection efforts, leverage resources, enhance civil and criminal enforcement of consumer fraud and educate the public in an effort to prevent consumers from being victimized. For more information about the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.