Beware of Scammers Targeting 3M Combat Arms Earplug Settlement Claimants, U.S. District Court Warns
In a recent order, Judge M. Casey Rodgers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a warning to claimants and attorneys involved in the 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation. The court has alerted them to be cautious of scammers posing as employees of Settlement Administrator Archer Systems LLC and attempting to retrieve sensitive personal information. These scammers have been contacting claimants involved in the $6 billion settlement deal reached in August 2023, asking for social security numbers and dates of birth.
The fraudulent activity emerged after a Reddit post leaked the telephone number previously used by Archer Systems to contact claimants. Scammers took advantage of this information and spoofed outgoing calls to claimants, pretending to be employees of Archer Systems. As a result, the court intervened and notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the scam.
Judge Rodgers emphasized the importance of vigilance in protecting personal information from potential scammers. The court’s order advises claimants to reach out to their lawyers immediately if contacted by someone claiming to be an Archer Systems employee. It also states that Archer Systems will only ask claimants for the last four digits of their social security numbers, not the entire number. The court discourages sharing information about the settlement on social media, as the scammers obtained the telephone number through a claimant’s social media post.
The case underlying this scam involves 3M and its subsidiary, Aearo Technologies Inc., which manufactured and supplied Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE) to the United States military between 2003 and 2015. The earplugs were meant to protect military service members from loud noises during training and combat. However, their short design failed to provide adequate coverage to some users’ ear canals, leading to hearing loss and other ear issues.
In 2016, competitor Moldex-Metric, Inc. filed a whistleblower lawsuit against 3M, alleging that the CAE did not meet the government’s protection standards. In 2018, 3M paid over $9 million to settle with the Department of Justice. Subsequently, individual lawsuits were filed by military service members, and in 2019, these cases were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Florida. In August 2023, a $6 billion settlement was reached with the 260,000 claimants involved, making it the largest MDL in U.S. history.
The current scam targeting claimants in this high-profile settlement underscores the prevalence of cyber-attacks and security breaches in recent times. Scammers are now targeting vulnerable populations, such as veterans, by utilizing novel schemes enabled by platforms like Reddit. It is crucial for individuals to stay informed and take steps to protect their personal information.
This cautionary order from the U.S. District Court serves as a reminder for all claimants and attorneys involved in the 3M Combat Arms Earplug settlement to be cautious when disclosing sensitive information and to report any suspicious activity. By taking these precautions, claimants can safeguard their personal information and avoid falling victim to identity theft and other fraudulent activities.