David Lesser, 57
Consumer protection volunteer
A onetime bank general counsel who was winding down his own small manufacturing firm, Lesser answered a 2010 call for volunteers from the Office of Consumer Protection in Montgomery County, Md.
Drawing on his legal expertise, he spends 15 hours a week investigating and resolving complaints; he's recovered tens of thousands of dollars so far.
A big victory: Identifying hundreds of plumbers who charged customers an average of $85 for sham permits when installing appliances -- then getting retailers that had hired the scammers to guard against future fraud.
"People often feel helpless when seeking redress. It takes a certain kind of perseverance and skill to succeed," says Lesser.
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