JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood warned consumers on Wednesday of persons or organizations offering to aid in filing claims in the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"It has been brought to our attention that there are individuals/organizations who are holding meetings statewide and charging a fee to help black farmers file claims and participate in lawsuits when, in fact, the deadline to do so has long since passed," Hood said. "We are looking into these allegations and what we can do about them, but feel the need to warn consumers to be wary."
More than $1 billion in settlements were approved by federal courts on Oct. 27, 2011, to settle claims by black farmers who alleged that they were discriminated against based on race by the USDA between 1981 and 1996. The USDA allegedly wrongfully denied them farm loans, loan servicing and other benefits or gave them loans with unfair terms.
The deadline for filing a claim in the settlement was May 11, 2012.
"Wherever there is money involved, we find scammers trying to steal it from those who most need it," Hood said. "What a shame that we have to send out such a warning. You can never be too careful these days."