ABCNews says that the West Virginia Attorney General is warning people about fake debt collectors who will call you repeatedly at home and at work, threatening you with arrest for not paying a debt… that doesn’t even exist.
The scammers operate under names such as U.S. National Bank, Federal Investigation Bureau and United Legal Processing, said West Virginia Assistant Attorney General Norman Googel.
The callers also have invoked the names of actors Denzel Washington and Steve Martin, people who’ve received calls tell ABCNews.com.
Googel said that the scammers have been impossible to track down, but ABCNews.com spoke to one man who claimed to be associated with U.S. National Bank. The man said he works for Financial Crime Division, a company he said provides services for USNB.
The man refused to give his name and gave little information about his company.
Steve Martin? What? When ABC tried to get the fake debt collector to tell them about his company, he responded in a thick accent: “It’s not necessary that each and everyone knows about Financial Crime Division, and probably one of them is you.” Yep. Definitely one of them is us. (To hear a clip of this conversation, click here.)
ABC says the scammers are targeting people who took out payday loans and have access to lots of personal information that may have been stolen from payday lending websites. One consumer who was interviewed for the report said that he was intimidated into sending the scammers $800. They claimed he still owed the money on some loans he took out in 2005. He had paid the loans off last year, but threats of arrest scared him.
“I was scared to death,” he said. “Everything they said literally just stressed me out to the max.”
The scammers like to use scary-sounding terms that are meaningless such as “downloading affidavits,” identify themselves as “Denzel Washington,” and say they are calling from “Steve Martin’s office.”
ABC says consumers with complaints about U.S. National Bank are encouraged to contact the FTC, and their state attorney general’s office.
Fake Debt Collectors Terrify Consumers [ABCNews]
Attorney General McGraw Warns Public of Fake Internet Loan Collectors Impersonating Law Enforcement Officers and Extorting Money From Consumers [West Virginia AG]