La. AG warns Black farmers about settlement scam
11th November 2013 · 0 Comments
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is urging farmers to be wary of individuals or organizations offering assistance in filing claims in the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“There are individuals and organizations who may be holding meetings and charging a fee to help black farmers file claims and participate in lawsuits when the deadline to file a claim for the settlement was May 11, 2012, more than one year ago,” said Sam Pleasant, Director of the AG’s Public Protection Division.
The Mississippi AG’s Office has also issued a warning to consumers about groups fraudulently offering to help Black farmers.”We haven’t received any reports of this happening in Louisiana — yet,” added Pleasant, “but Mississippi has received reports that the scammers are at work there. AG Buddy Caldwell wants us to make sure that Louisiana residents are aware of this scam so that citizens will be less likely to be taken advantage of if these people pack their bags and come over here to try and scam farmers in our state.”
Federal courts gave final approval to the settlement on October 27, 2011, providing more than $1 billion to settle claims by African American farmers that the USDA discriminated against them based on race, wrongfully denied them farm loans, loan servicing and other benefits, or by giving them loans with unfair terms between 1981 and 1996.
To report a scam or file a complaint, contact the AG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 or online at www.agbuddycaldwell.com.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is authorized under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act to conduct investigations when there is reason to believe an unfair or deceptive trade practice has taken place, is taking place, or is about to take place. Additionally, enforcing anti-trust laws relative to the regulation of trade and commerce and protecting the welfare of small business interests and the interests of persons injured by anti-trust violations are a vital part of the office’s mission. The Consumer Protection Section conducts education seminars, training and workshops on important consumer issues and also focuses on the mediation and investigation of consumer complaints and inquires. Consumers seeking additional information on these or any other business or consumer protection-related topics are encouraged to visit the Louisiana AG’s website at www.agbuddycaldwell.com.
This article originally published in the November 11, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.