Peach Sweep

Statement by Anthony Di Resta, Director
Atlanta Regional Office
Federal Trade Commission

Good Morning. I'm grateful to all of you who are here this morning as we announce the results of "Peach Sweep," a joint federal-state-local law enforcement initiative targeting fraudulent telemarketers and direct mail schemes that originate in Georgia and scam consumers in all parts of the country.

Peach Sweep has been an unprecedented cooperative effort -- a broad collection of public and private sector partners that helped bring 26 law enforcement actions and a proactive consumer education effort to fight telemarketing and direct mail fraud. For their participation, I'd especially like to thank the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs; the DeKalb County District Attorney and Police Department; the Atlanta Better Business Bureau; the U. S. Postal Inspection Service; the Atlanta Public Schools and MARTA. I would also like to acknowledge the presence of General Winston Bryant, the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas, whose office substantially assisted the FTC in one of the federal lawsuits.

Peach Sweep sends a strong signal. We want the bad apples out of the Peach state. Telemarketing fraud robs consumers in every part of the country. Georgia is famous for its southern hospitality. But we're not a friendly haven for con artists who target victims in other places. With the help of the largest neighborhood watch ever and an aggressive consumer education campaign, we're targeting telemarketing scammers. We want them out of Georgia and out of business in every other state.

The success of Peach Sweep is owing in large measure to the coordinated cooperation we received from Attorneys General in other states. The cases they brought against Georgia-based scammers helped hand us a victory today. Speaking for those Attorneys General is Jim Doyle, Attorney General of Wisconsin and President of the National Association of Attorneys General(NAAG). General Doyle:

Comments of General Doyle

The Federal actions and cases brought by other state Attorneys General reinforced the law enforcement initiatives here in Georgia, where telemarketers also victimize consumers. It's a pleasure to present Thurbert Baker, Attorney General of Georgia.

Comments of General Baker

Peach Sweep is designed to send a signal to scammers. But it also is designed to send a signal to consumers. We know that many telemarketers aim their pitches at senior citizens. Well, the nation's premier senior citizen organization, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is taking aim, too, with a consumer education campaign designed to help consumers fight back. May I introduce Helen Boosalis, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the AARP.

Comments of Helen Boosalis

The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) is a project of the National Consumers League. It provides a toll free hotline to enable consumers to seek advice. It also collects fraud information from consumers and notifies fraud enforcement authorities like the FTC and NAAG. It receives approximately 350 fraud incident reports a day. We're very pleased Susan Grant, Director of the NFIC, could be with us today.

Comments of Susan Grant

Over the last year and a half, the FTC has formed a partnership for consumer education with businesses and consumer groups to produce campaigns to empower and educate consumers. American Express is an active member of this partnership, having produced and distributed consumer education pieces on credit, pre-paid phone cards and cyber-shopping. They are now launching a new campaign, "Tell a Friend about Telefraud." Here to tell you about that campaign is Peter Velardi, Group Vice President of American Express Financial Advisors.

Comments of Peter Velardi

I hope you will agree from our announcement today that we have shown that working together to pursue aggressive law enforcement and provide proactive consumer education, we're getting out the message about telemarketing fraud. Thank you.