About the Region
Todd Kossow, Director
Joannie Wei, Assistant Director
The Midwest Region fulfills the FTC’s consumer protection mission by bringing law enforcement actions to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices; building state and local partnerships; and educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.
Headquartered in Chicago, this regional office serves the residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Notable Cases and Outreach
The Midwest Region (MWR) has pioneered important FTC work to prevent the fraudulent use of payment methods, including groundbreaking settlements with key players in the money transfer industry. For years, money transfers have been the payment method of choice for scam artists, costing U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In 2017, MWR negotiated a $586 million settlement with Western Union, the largest money transfer company in the world, obtaining refunds for hundreds of thousands of people for money lost through fraud-induced transfers. In addition to refunding consumers’ money in appropriate circumstances, the settlement’s innovative injunctive provisions required Western Union to implement a comprehensive anti-fraud program. That case followed MWR’s 2009 settlement with MoneyGram International, the first Commission case against a money transfer company, involving similar alleged practices. For its work on the 2017 settlement, MWR’s Western Union team was named a 2018 finalist for a prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal.
The Midwest Region (MWR) aggressively pursues fraudulent uses of technology, to protect consumers as the marketplace evolves. In 2008, MWR shut down an international email “spam gang” responsible for billions of spam messages. In 2011, as part of its commitment to combating online affiliate marketing, MWR launched a nationwide sweep against ten fake news website operators who allegedly used fabricated investigative reports to peddle their products. The office then spearheaded the Commission’s nationwide crackdown on text message spammers in 2013.
In 2014, in a first-of-its-kind case, MWR reached a settlement with an online dating site alleged to have used bots posing as real people to dupe people into paying for memberships. And in 2017, the Region led the Operation Tech Trap sweep with international, state, and local law enforcement partners to secure bans against defendants responsible for the wave of calls and pop-up messages falsely claiming that consumers’ computers or mobile devices were infected with viruses or malware. These efforts resulted in orders barring defendants from deceiving consumers and imposing tens of millions of dollars in monetary judgments.
The Midwest Region (MWR) maintains strong, collaborative partnerships with other government and private partners and regularly conducts outreach to consumers and businesses in the region. The office has established consumer fraud task forces in the region’s major cities, bringing together federal, state, and local partners to discuss local and national fraud trends. In 1999, MWR became a founding member of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, an international law enforcement coalition aimed at combating cross-border telemarketing fraud.
MWR also hosted the agency’s first Common Ground Conferences with states in the region in the early 1990s. MWR continues to host regular conferences to bring together state and federal consumer protection officials, legal services attorneys, and other consumer advocates to discuss emerging trends and continuing challenges facing consumers in the region. Finally, the office hosts workshops and other outreach events. In 2018 alone, in addition to speaking about topics ranging from fraud affecting seniors to immigration scams, MWR held Keeping Your Small Business Safe in the Digital Age, a workshop for small businesses; a cutting-edge workshop called Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams; and several state webinars about consumer fraud and identity theft.
Have a consumer complaint? You can report it:
|By phone (toll free):
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday through Friday
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20580