About the Region
The Western Region San Francisco serves the residents of Northern California, Northern Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
Kerry O’Brien, Regional Director
Emily Burton, Assistant Regional Director
The Western Region San Francisco handles both antitrust and consumer protection matters. The office works to enforce the federal antitrust laws through merger and anticompetitive conduct investigations and litigation across an array of industries. Western Region San Francisco also stops unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices by conducting investigations, bringing law enforcement actions, building state and local partnerships, and educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.
Notable Cases and Outreach
The Western Region San Francisco (WRSF) brought one of the first cases pursuant to Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, FTC v. H.N. Singer, establishing the agency’s authority to obtain injunctive and monetary relief in federal district court. WRSF also has a long history of aggressive fraud enforcement, including against alleged scams involving prize promotion (Prize Information Bureau), foreclosure relief, business opportunities (Network Servs. Depot), negative options (Commerce Planet), and lead generators (Swish Marketing). These cases, in particular, continued a line of decisions holding individual defendants liable for the total amount of consumer injury. In Commerce Planet, the court ordered $18.2 million in consumer redress, while, in Swish Marketing and Network Servs. Depot, the court ordered, respectively, $4.8 million and $2 million returned to consumers.
The Western Region San Francisco (WRSF) has brought and litigated many national advertising cases, including a pending action alleging as unfair and deceptive AT&T’s throttling of unlimited data users that led to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc decision confirming the FTC’s common carrier exemption does not apply to non-common carrier activities. WRSF has brought other important groundbreaking advertising cases including: Wellness Support Network, challenging unsubstantiated diabetes treatment claims that resulted in a $2.2 million judgment; Nissan North America, a case challenging a TV commercial’s false demonstration of a truck’s towing ability; Sony Computer Entertainment, the first FTC case to challenge deceptive video game advertising that resulted in consumer redress of up to $20 million; and precedent-setting cases challenging social media campaigns that failed to disclose their material connection to the brands, Deutsch LA and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
The Western Region San Francisco (WRSF) has led many important merger matters in the health care and energy sectors, including Renown Health (a merger among specialty physicians) and AmeriGas/Energy Transfer Partners Ltd. (a merger involving propane refilling services), both of which resulted in divestitures to restore competition lost by the deals. WRSF has also challenged anticompetitive conduct in cases such as AmeriGas/Blue Rhino (alleging collusion in propane refilling services) and a pending matter, Benco/Patterson/Schein (alleging collusion in distribution of products and services to dental offices).
The Western Region San Francisco (WRSF) sponsors many consumer outreach efforts, including hosting an Ethnic Media Conference in Fresno in 2017 and San Francisco in 2016, and an Immigration Fraud Conference in San Francisco in 2014. WRSF is also committed to educating small businesses about frauds and scams, including hosting an event in San Jose in 2017. In addition, WRSF hosts a quarterly gathering of state and local law enforcement partners and legal services groups to coordinate efforts to address emerging frauds and scams. On the antitrust front, in 2018, WRSF hosted antitrust law enforcement partners from the offices of 11 western state attorneys general to discuss shared law enforcement priorities.
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