Sewell warns of lawsuit fraud

Published 12:10am Sunday, November 17, 2013

The claims period for the second phase of the black farmers lawsuits ended two years ago, but some Black Belt residents are continuing to receive requests to reopen the cases.

The requests ask farmers for money and in return the black farmers lawsuits would be reopened.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell issued a statement late last week reminding residents the window for claims has closed in every farmer’s discrimination suit and the requests are fraudulent.

“Certain individuals are illegally soliciting funds from people with the promise of reopening several USDA farmer discrimination cases,” Sewell said in the statement. “Local law enforcement officials have reported that some of these individuals are fraudulently claiming to be collecting funds on behalf of my office. It is critical that the public is warned against the scams.”

The claims period for the second settlement phase of the Black farmers, or Pigford, lawsuits ended May 11, 2012. The Hispanic and Women claims period ended on May 1, 2013 and the Native American farmer claims period closed on Dec. 27, 2011.

Sewell said no more claims can be filed in any of the suits and there are no plans to provide additional settlement.

“My constituents are advised to refrain from providing any funds to individuals or groups offering such assistance,” she said.

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