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The FTC protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. We conduct investigations, sue outfits and individuals that break the law, and inform people and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. In 2017, the FTC filed more than 70 law enforcement actions, obtained more than 145 orders against defendants, and refunded more than $269 million to consumers.

The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. That means that, while we can’t put people in jail, many of our partners can and do, including the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys, and other federal, state, and local criminal law enforcers. When FTC cases include behavior that also violates criminal laws, we let criminal prosecutors know.

That’s where the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit (CLU) comes in. It helps increase the criminal prosecution of consumer fraud. Since it was formed fifteen years ago, the FTC’s CLU has contributed to the successful prosecution of over one thousand defendants, including fraudulent telemarketers, phantom debt and mortgage relief scammers, immigration fraudsters and others who prey on American consumers and small businesses.

Here’s a quick by-the-numbers look at 2017:

  • FTC staff worked on 165 requests for cooperation from criminal law enforcement partners.
  • Prosecutors charged 95 new defendants
  • Prosecutors obtained 41 guilty pleas or convictions with an average sentence of 53 months
  • Six defendants received sentences of more than seven years

We have more information about the CLU and the people whose efforts in criminal law enforcement have made a significant contribution to the protection of American consumers.

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