The Consumer Sentinel database provides law enforcement officials across the country with access to consumer complaints in their jurisdictions. Consumer Sentinel includes complaints about scams, identity theft, telemarketing, computers and the internet, health and weight loss products, debt collection, credit reports, and financial matters.
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Announcer VO: Consumer Sentinel is an online investigative tool that gives members access to millions of consumer complaints.
I would rate Consumer Sentinel, specifically the most effective tool we have.
Sentinel is one of the most valuable resources in my bag of tricks.
Announcer VO: The Consumer Sentinel Network is based on the idea that sharing information can make law enforcement even more effective. It is a free resource, and it’s available to any federal, local or state law enforcement agency.
We can go to one website, within about 30 seconds I have a complete list of every complaint filed within a certain time period. It’s the entire database that you need to build cases.
Announcer VO: Consumer Sentinel is powered by an enhanced search engine and user interface, making it easier than ever to find the information that you need.
I think that it helps because it adds value to the cases if you can find additional victims and losses.
Announcer VO: Whether it’s finding victims in your community, or around the world, Consumer Sentinel can help.
Currently, I am working a racketeering case involving a boat dealer here in the general central Florida area. Initially when we started this investigation, we only had a hand full of victims. We exhausted most of our leads. We kept reaching out to different agencies, but we were actually coming up empty. With the consumer sentinel network we were able to expand the victim pool we were able to find people that were in Germany, Australia, and find the ultimate dollar loss, which allowed us to charge the targets.
Announcer VO: Consumer Sentinel will help you get results.
Since we began using the Sentinel network we’ve been able to bring in over two million dollars of restitution for victims from around the country. Giving real money back to real victims when they thought that money was gone forever.
Announcer VO: In a time of shrinking resources, Consumer Sentinel will help you do more with less.
Our conviction rate has tripled. We have been able to change the production of a case from about thirteen months of investigative and litigation time to maybe three months.
Announcer VO: (Perhaps,) alerts are some of the most useful and time saving features of Consumer Sentinel.
When I am chasing a bad debt collection agency, or company in my area, I can tell the Sentinel Network to set up an alert. It saves me a lot of time, because the companies, I might be watching 6 at any given moment. Every morning it e-mail’s me and tells me if there’s a new complaint filed. And that fresh victim might be the last one I needed that actually paid money or could identify the bank account. Also on my alert, my information is out there that I am building a case against that company.
And on more than one occasion I’ve received a call from an investigator in another agency that says, we’re working the same case.
So the other law enforcement agencies are now going to know where to send their victims or who they might have cooperation with.
It very much helps, when we’re working together, comparing our notes, sharing our resources, so that we’re not duplicating the effort.
Announcer VO: Consumer Sentinel is continually updated with consumer complaints from the Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Inspection Service, the Better Business Bureau, Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the National Fraud Information Center, and more and more State AG’s.
Announcer VO: One of the strengths of the system is the ability to search virtually any field. Search by common fields like name and address, and more unusual ones like dollar amount, telephone number and alias.
You can narrow your search down, you can broaden it out, you can use wildcard characters.
Announcer VO: The results can be amazing.
I did a search by ailas and I found a fresh complaint. A woman in Oregon had filed a complaint exclusively with the FTC network. They had been herrassing her for weeks, she thought, when they call back, I’m going to record it. So she recorded the entire conversation which lasts 16 some minutes. That recording is going to become the number one exhibit in our criminal case. Had we not found that on Sentinel, we would have never found it.
For someone who is not using Sentinel, my question would be why?
Not using the sentinel Network is like basically, essentially like not using the Internet.
I don’t know another tool that I can use to get the data that I get from Consumer Sentinel.
I would only wish that more law enforcement would get on this network
Announcer VO: For more information about Consumer Sentinel and how to get your agency connected to this free resource. Visit register.consumersentinel.gov, or call the Consumer Sentinel Help Line at 1.877.701.9595.
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