Interview: I Fought Off The US National Bank Scammers

Almost immediately after Laurie Lucas picked up the phone, the many from “Legal Affidavit Office” began reading off a litany of charges he said “US National Bank” had filed against her. Theft of property. Fraud. Money laundering. “Eric Matthews” said that he, “felt sorry for the tragedy that was getting ready to befall” her for her failure to pay back a $5,000 payday loan. They would be coming to arrest her tomorrow morning at 11am, he said in an identifiably Indian accent. When Laurie protested that she had never taken out such a loan, or even a payday loan in her life, and had never heard of US National Bank, Eric said she should have kept better records…

I interviewed Laurie about her experience successfully fending off the US National Bank scammers. Read the transcript and learn how you too can protect yourself, inside…

BEN POPKEN: First things first, please state your first and last name for the record.
LAURIE LUCAS: Laurie Lucas.
BEN POPKEN: Where are you calling from?
BEN POPKEN: Ohio. The heartland.
BEN POPKEN: Why don’t you basically tell me when the calls started, what their tone was like, what they asked you, and how it made you feel.
LAURIE LUCAS: Ok the calls started about the beginning of September. The phone call was, I answered it, it was a very foreign-sounding person, and he said I need to speak to Laurie Lucas and I said this is she. And he said this is Eric Matthews from Legal Affidavit Office and I am going to read you charges that have been pressed against you. And he began to read off this list of charges, like bank fraud and a couple of other ones, and he said you are being charged by US NATIONAL BANK, because you had a loan with them which you didn’t pay, you owe them $5,000 and they’ve decided to write it off. He was very matter of fact, very serious. These are serious charges. He said there was nothing that I could do at this point. Bottom line was I was charged. The company would not accept any money from me or anything to take care of this. And that I would be arrested tomorrow morning at 11am. They would be coming to pick me up.
BEN POPKEN: Did he say who was coming?
BEN POPKEN: Just “they.”
LAURIE LUCAS: “They.” “They” would be coming. So I’m not sure who was going to come. But anyway, and I kinda knew right away…just too many things that didn’t make sense. Just from the first readings and all that kind of nonsense. Then also, I don’t know anyone who has a foreign accent whose name is Eric Matthews.
BEN POPKEN: Could you kinda tell what kinda accent it was?
LAURIE LUCAS: Really, I think it was Indian. And I only say that because we have so many companies that end up calling, we end up talking to customer service there with “Pete” or you know… I do believe it was an Indian accent. So I said to him, you know, well, you’ll have to send me something by mail. Or you can go ahead and send them out to arrest me. And I started to hang up and he said you know, you’re not taking this seriously. And I said, tell you what, let me take your information again. You said your name was Eric Matthews, and who do you work for? And he said Legal Affidavit Office. And I said where is that located? And he said California, and you’ll have to appear in California for court. I said, well, are you an attorney? And he said no, he kept repeating the name of the office. I said, do you work for an attorney. He said yes, he said he was The Prosecutor. And I asked, for what county? And he said no, I work for the attorney. And I said, for what attorney? And he finally gave me the name of an attorney, and the man’s name was Michael Johnson, and I asked where the office was located, and he said, and he didn’t want to tell me and I pressed a little more, and he said Hanford California. So the whole time he’s talking I’m typing in on Google Legal Affidavit Offce, and it immediately comes up on ripoffreport. And so I’m now aware I’m now talking, as if I wasn’t aware before, that I’m now talking to a scam artist. So I said, do you have a number for him, is there a number where I can reach you? And he said no no no, I’ll be calling you back. Well, I hung up. I immediately looked for a Michael Johnson, an attorney, and I found him in Hamford California. And I called him. And he had never heard of this company, he was just shocked. And he was thrilled that called him up and let him know that they were using his name. And he filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission, and also with Ventura County police. Since it was Ventura county where they were calling from. And the next I got another call and I just said, send me a letter by mail. The thing that’s concerning to me is about it, is that they have my Social and all my information, but it’s all jumbled. It’s not correct.
LAURIE LUCAS: They immediately want you to validate it. And they also said it was a payday loan. And that they needed the name of my two references to verify more information, they needed the name of the two references from my loan application. And then, a couple other things he asked me for and I just kept, trying to find out more information, and immediately, as soon I pushed, he hung up. And I received maybe 3 or 4 calls, and been getting more, and then today, I got a call from my husband, now using my husband’s name, from them, saying that he’s going to be arrested. And they need to talk to him right away.
BEN POPKEN: Same thing all over again.
LAURIE LUCAS: Right. About his debt with US National Bank. And so I just said, send it in writing, and hung up. But again, they were reading all the charges, and telling me his social, and again, it was jumbled, but it’s still concerning.
BEN POPKEN: Sure. What do you mean by jumbled?
LAURIE LUCAS: They have the numbers transposed. So they have the right numbers, but not in the right order. You know, if it’s 123, they have, 231.
BEN POPKEN: Did they also have information like your bank’s name and account numbers?
LAURIE LUCAS: Yes, they did. They did. They had my bank number. They did not have my account numbers. They wanted me to give them those, of course. But they did know my bank, and they also knew my birth date, and things like that.
BEN POPKEN: Have you ever in the past taken out a payday loan?
BEN POPKEN: Ok. Not an online cash advance or anything like that?
BEN POPKEN: You said you were familiar with these kinds of calls from customer service reps, and you’re on the debt forums…have you had troubles dealing with debt?
LAURIE LUCAS: No, actually the reason I’m on the debtforum is I started just trying to do some more research and I typed in Legal Affidavit Fraud and scams and I was just kind of reading all this information and I came across this one. And I was reading the forum where people posted that they had been called and what do we do and all this sort of thing and I saw yours on there.
BEN POPKEN: Right. So, basically, upstanding citizens, your accounts are in good standing….
LAURIE LUCAS: I’d like to think so, yeah
BEN POPKEN: Pay your bills on time, that sort of thing…
BEN POPKEN: The foreclosure crisis is not going to land on your doorstep anytime soon.
LAURIE LUCAS: No no no no.
BEN POPKEN: Great. Can you describe for me, you said his tone was matter of fact—
LAURIE LUCAS: It was very intimidating. It was very matter-of-fact, very intimidating, very authoritative, he would not stop talking. I said hold on a minute, and he just continued to read these charges.
BEN POPKEN: What did he say when called after 11am the next day and you hadn’t been arrested?
LAURIE LUCAS: He told me that he held it, to try to make arrangements, for a settlement on my behalf. And he was talking to his attorneys to see if they would in fact accept a settlement from me. And he kept warning me, I don’t think they will. But depending if you can pay today, they might be willing to work with you.
BEN POPKEN: So he’s helping you out, so he’s your friend.
LAURIE LUCAS: Exactly. Right. He’s going to be the one to work on my behalf, with the other attorneys.
BEN POPKEN: The bad guys.
LAURIE LUCAS: Right. My buddy.
BEN POPKEN: Besides the threat of arrest, did he specify any other threats against you or your family or anything?
LAURIE LUCAS: No. He just said he hoped that I “understood the gravity of the situation.” And that he “felt sorry for,” how did he put it, “the tragedy that was getting ready to befall me.”
BEN POPKEN: Wow. That’s some language.
LAURIE LUCAS: It is, isn’t it?
BEN POPKEN: What did he say when you told him you had never taken out this loan, you had never heard of US National Bank and you had no idea what he was talking about?
LAURIE LUCAS: He said that I should keep better records. And that indeed I had. and I said, when then you will need to send that to me, so that I can verify it, all the original information, where I had taken out the loan, where I had signed for it, all that information. The original documents. He said that he was not required to do that. And if I didn’t have the paperwork, I should have kept better documents.
BEN POPKEN: Now, I have to commend you Laurie Lucas because you did a very good job from fending this guy off, and you sound like a real solid citizen and a pretty—
LAURIE LUCAS:—I knew right away it was a scam, I just wanted to hear what they had to say. Without giving any of my information away. I really wanted to hear what the deal was. I’m just always concerned, and I have two daughters in college and they get calls, or things like that, my daughter got an email from someone saying that she was going to inherit $50 million from Nigeria and she called me right away. And I said nonono, send that back
BEN POPKEN: Right. There is no Nigerian Prince. While you were able to fend them off pretty well and stand your ground, what do you think happens to other people out there who might be a little scatterbrained, might have a bunch of loans out, for whom this might not be the only call of this kind that they’ve received?
LAURIE LUCAS: I actually have, I used to be military. And I’m retired. And I used to have some young troops who would take out payday loans and I would get calls at the office for them you know that they hadn’t paid the payday loan and this and that and the other thing. These kids were terrified. And they were in way over their head, and, there was no way they were ever going to pay them off. So, I have some experience with the payday loan deal. Just…it has to be terrifying for them. Because I think what happens, and I know with one of my troops, he had signed up online with two different companies and tried with several, so he had no idea who had his information… you’re just filling out forms online with all your social and your everything and I think for someone like him, if they had called him he would have panicked. He would have just been panicked. And I believe he would have paid the money. Any amount of money. And I think that’s probably what happens. And he starts off by reading all these you know legitimate-sounding charges against you and if you don’t really understand how things work, that you can’t be arrested for bad debts, you go to court and be sued, I’m sure people panic. And I know payday loans, I mean, nobody wanted me to know that they had them. They’re very embarrassed and didn’t want kids to know. And that’s even more fuel for the fire for these people. And that they don’t want to tell people, yeah, I had a payday loan and now these people are calling me, so I imagine they get quite a bit of money from people trying to not be in trouble and you know they get in such a circle with these things they don’t know who they owe. I imagine it’s got to be terrifying to get this call and think you might be arrested. To me it was almost comical.
BEN POPKEN: It sounds like you were having a little fun with him.
LAURIE LUCAS: I kinda was, I mean “the prosecutor who works for the attorney…” That’s gotta be, his caseload has got to be incredible, his record is impeccable if he’s working for the attorney, just, none of it made any sense. But I know some people don’t understand a lot of things, how a lot of things work, and they may just be so terrified that they send the money. And I’m sure it’s working, otherwise they wouldn’t be calling so much and you wouldn’t see all those things on ripoff report, this particular forum and there’s several others where they’re out there. So it’s obviously working or they wouldn’t continue their scam. It’s really sad. To me, those people who are taking out those payday loans, they’re already in trouble, and they’re already overwhelmed, these are people who probably don’t have a lot of money or financial skills to start with. I just think it’s sad.
BEN POPKEN: They’re not in a great place to begin with. They kind of pick the perfect targets.
LAURIE LUCAS: They do, I think they must. I’m just curious, because there’s a few people who don’t have payday loans, or anything like that.
LAURIE LUCAS: I’m just curious how they get people like me, because there’s a couple other people who never had any payday loans, who never did anything online like that. So I’m just wondering. So that’s the only curious thing to me, is how did you get my information.
BEN POPKEN: They have to have bought it from somewhere. I was surprised when you said you hadn’t taken out any payday loans… When you were helping out your troops did you ever list yourself as a contact, or a reference or a guarantee on any of them?
LAURIE LUCAS: No the only thing I ever did is say if it doesn’t get paid you can give me a call and I gave them my name and phone number to the company.
BEN POPKEN: That might have been it.
LAURIE LUCAS: That might have been it, huh?
BEN POPKEN: What these guys do, a lot of places online where you’re entering your information, they collect all that, and then they resell it to other people, and these other people create these massive databases by buying information from all these different sites and then they’re able to combine them together. So they could have had your name and phone number, and at some point, other pieces of your information fell into some other guys hands, and they collected that together, built a record…
LAURIE LUCAS: Oh my gosh.
BEN POPKEN: And once they built it up enough, they were able to throw all this balderdash at you. And say we have your social your bank and dadadada then they sell it to this illegal debt collector, collection group, what have you, the fun begins.
LAURIE LUCAS: That’s amazing.
BEN POPKEN: So you have to be really careful who you give your info to, I guess, is the takeaway on that.
LAURIE LUCAS: I have a credit watch monitoring service on my credit report and my husband’s and my two children, I’m, as I said, I’m retied Air Force. It happened about a year ago that the Department of veteran affairs lost all our information, or it was stolen.
BEN POPKEN: Yeah, I heard about that.
LAURIE LUCAS: And I received a letter that said yeah, you’re one of them. Also, the Department of Defense, the tri-care health insurance company, also all my information was released from them. Without even trying, there’s two sources are out there.
BEN POPKEN: It’s crazy.
LAURIE LUCAS: There’s so much that you can’t do anymore unless you do it online. Even with your regular bills. Our car payments, they want you to be set up online, they want you to set up the auto debit stuff and have it come out of your checking automatically and they want you to pay it online and they encourage it because with our car payment, we get a $15 processing fee if pay our bill by calling it in. but if you do it online, it’s free. if you mail it in, and they process it later than the date it’s due, then you get a late fee. so, it’s no win. I’m always amazed at how crooked the whole system is.
BEN POPKEN: It is. But hopefully, by exposing the information from the US National Bank scam and your story and the other stories I’ve gathered, we’ll be able to help inform consumers to protect themselves.
LAURIE LUCAS: I hope so.

Harassed By US National Bank “Debt Collectors?” Let’s Talk
Fake Debt Collectors Are Trying To Intimidate You Out Of Your Money

(Photo: scentzilla)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Chongo says:

    Great Article…. Dont know if this is related but has anyone ever been scammed by those people who call from prison and tell you that someone you know has been hurt in an accident? They then tell you to call back using a *7## number. I didn’t fall all the way for it but I was super freaked out that someone I knew was hurt. I realized it was fake when the guy said *7…

    anyways, this story reminded me of the terrible feeling that I’m sure Laurie felt.

    • WraithSama says:


      I’ve heard about that scam before. It has something to do with call forwarding. They convince you to unwittingly activate call forwarding in some way so that they can make long-distance phone calls and you get charged for it instead of them. I remember hearing sometime back that prison inmates were doing that one a lot.

    • LogicalOne says:

      @Chongo: My wife got a call like that. Fortunately, she called the local police who told her that bad news like a car accident is never divulged by phone. The authorities always send a police officer over in person.

      • Chongo says:

        @LogicalOne: yeah I figured that but the initial “A female you know has been seriously hurt in a car accident” really sent me off. My heart was beating so fast and I was so freaked out that I was a hair’s width away from calling it back. I dont consider myself a 100% awesome “consumer” but after reading this site for a couple years, I can say that if I was almost fooled, alot of other would be.

        as a little extra background… the phone call starts with a “Do you accept a collect call from XYZ prison”. In my case it was all in spanish but I could make a few things out. I assumed one of my dumb ass friends got him/herself locked up and wanted me to bail them out… thats why I accepted the charges.

        The first thing I did though was type the phone number into google and the first result was a “SCAM ALERT for Illinois” from the county sheriff.

        • SavitashriHeretic says:

          My dad got that exact call a couple weeks ago, and you’re right; it’s pretty scary. He was almost positive it was a scam right away (former cop so he knows that’s not how they handle those situations), but with my little sister going away to college it freaked him out quite a bit.
          Fortunately he got ahold of my sister which calmed him down enough to check things out. I have a couple friends who work the fraud department for a major phone provider and prison-related calls, especially these, are a large part of their workload.

        • HogwartsAlum says:


          When a close relative of mine was in prison I would get calls from him that were collect. But see, I KNEW he was in there. If anyone tried to pull that now, I’d be like, “No one I know is in there. Bye.” *CLICK*

  2. KhaiJB says:

    nice little trick there with the numbers. they read them to you scrambled (or what they think are your nhumbers) and you tend to want to go ‘no, it’s *****’…. glad she did’nt fall for that…

    • castlecraver says:

      @KhaiJB: I found it interesting to hear that they had her SS# “scrambled.” Considering for most people, it wouldn’t be a difficult task to make a reasonable guess at their first 5 digits. The first 3 are based on the office that issued the number or the mailing address of the applicant (depending on whether it was issued before or after 1973) and generally correspond to the individual’s residence at that time. The middle 2 numbers are “group numbers” issued in a non-consecutive (yet consistent and published) sequence, and may not be difficult to guess if the scammer had other SS#s from the same date, area, siblings, etc. That only leaves the last four, and considering just dumb luck, there’s an awful good chance one or two guessed numbers will match actual numbers, if order is disregarded.

    • Brontide says:

      @KhaiJB: Given the way SSN’s were ( are? ) handed out all you need is the DOB + hospital and you can approximate the SSN based on a database of numbers.

      They had DOB, so it’s possible they are approximating using this method.

      • Jevia says:

        @snowmoon: For those born many years ago who didn’t have to get SS# until they got a job in their teens, or thereabouts, it can be difficult to even approximate the number, since people move.

        But I wonder how much easier the government made it for scam artists of the future since now SS# are handed out shortly after the baby is born. So now, all a scam artist needs in dob and city of birth to get the first 3 numbers, and as stated above, can get a pretty good approximation of the rest.

  3. mythago says:

    Great article and well done, Ms. Lucas.

    On attorneys – be aware that a lot of bar associations, including California’s, have a public database of attorneys. Anyone can look up the name, bar number, business address and telephone of an attorney and give you that information if you ask who the attorney is. If anybody claims they are calling on behalf of an attorney – ANY attorney – check them out. Legitimate law offices have absolutely no problem with you doing this.

  4. GearheadGeek says:

    I wonder if this is the sort of call I’m not answering when I ignore calls from unexpected, unrecognized inbound numbers?

    • Skipweasel says:

      @GearheadGeek: I don’t know about the US, but most UK doctors and hospitals withold their number on outgoing calls – as do the police IIRC. Ignoring calls from unrecognised or witheld numbers can be a two-edged sword.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @Skipweasel: If it’s important enough they will find a way to get the information to you. The cops can send an officer to your door, a doctors office can send you a postcard.

      • JustinAche says:

        @Skipweasel: Yes, but anyone legitimate will leave a message.

      • Parting says:

        @Skipweasel: Then doctor’s secretary will leave a message : ”Please call back”.

        I’ve got one like that. Once you call back, then they give you details about what’s going on.

        • HogwartsAlum says:


          That’s fine as long as they identify themselves. If I know who it is, I’m much more likely to return their call.

      • GirlCat says:

        @Skipweasel: True, but I haven’t answered a call from a number I didn’t recognize in almost 20 years and nothing bad has ever happened. If it’s that important, people always leave a message. Also, in my experience, U.S. doctors/hospitals don’t block their numbers–there isn’t really any reason to. At most, the number that shows is their main switchboard.

        • arl84 says:

          @GirlCat: you’ve had caller ID for 20 years? I didn’t know it was out that long.

          lol j/k, but I don’t answer numbers I don’t recognize either and I always wonder if it’s scam artists.

    • Juliekins says:

      @GearheadGeek: If they want to talk to you that badly, they can leave a message or send a (certified) letter. Law enforcement will generally do a “tack and mail” in an attempt to reach you, too.

      I don’t answer calls that lack caller ID data or have a number I don’t recognize. If they want to talk to me that badly, they’ll have to work a little harder to prove they’re someone I want to speak with.

  5. tedyc03 says:

    It’s scary to think that these types of scammers play on our worst fears. We don’t have debtor’s prison in America, and a company can’t press charges – only the District Attorney. So sad.

  6. AgentTuttle says:

    I’d have a hard time not reading them the riot act and calling BS on their bluff.

  7. Jetgirly says:

    I love that her daughter who is away at college phoned home RIGHT AWAY when she got an email from a Nigerian prince!

    • Parting says:

      @Jetgirly: Well, she was smart enough to do that. Often, starting college, students are not aware of all scams going around. So at least, she had sound judgment to ask.

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    I would also like to add a very important piece of advice. You might wonder how scammers and fraudsters are so easily able to get your personal information. Purchasing hacked/stolen info is one way.

    But here’s the advice:

    Be VERY CAREFUL what you post on myspace or facebook!

    A lot of people keep pages on there that could lead a complete stranger right to them with little difficulty.

    • ARP says:

      @dragonfire81: 2nd. MySpace has the answers to many security questions and lots of personal information. Think about it:

      Hero, favorite song, movie, etc., DOB, relative names, address, High School attended, pets, etc.

    • Parting says:

      @dragonfire81: That’s one of things that keeps me away from those sites. They have way too much information on their hands, with little security.

      • mike says:

        @Victo: But *YOU* provide that information. If you don’t want to be searched, don’t put the info out there.

        You should always assume that if you put it on the internet, expect it to be found.

  9. humphrmi says:

    I once started getting calls from a company called “OSI Recovery” threatening basically the same thing, although they claimed the debt was with Checkfree, not a pay day loan company. I wonder how many permutations of this scam are going around?

    • lalaland13 says:

      @humphrmi: Ohh I’ve gotten a call from OSI as well. Way back in the day. They’d call me at work, even, claiming I owed them money for loans, and the first time they scared me and I was like “Uh let me get back to you.” But then I realized they were full of horse poo, but they kept calling, and I got other people calling as well, and still not sure how much was related to my mom’s filing for bankruptcy and how much was just random scamming. One of many reasons I cut off my landline a few months ago.

      Most recently, I kept getting calls on my cell asking for Ashley. Wrong number, I said. Finally, it happened again while I was at work and I was frustrated and said, “Look I’ve gotten calls like this before and I’ve said there’s no Ashley here so please stop calling this number, take me off your list or whatever. I don’t mean to be rude but stop calling.” So far, it’s worked.

    • jdhuck says:

      @humphrmi: I think checkfree does make payday loans in some areas.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I once started getting calls from a company called “OSI Recovery”…
      @humphrmi: You got phone calls from the The Office of Secret Intelligence?

      Shorter YouTube version:

  10. morganlh85 says:

    Wow…I can see how people would fall for that quite easily.

    But please, Ben — paragraphs next time.

  11. Wubbytoes says:

    Man that’s some creepy stuff. That woman was really smart though to keep a cool head and look at the situation rationally.

  12. Trencher93 says:

    Another warning – these debt collectors troll. My answering machine was contacted by one repeatedly a few years ago. They called over and over, asking for a name so slurred (either computer-read or human-read) it could not be understood. Apparently they were calling any and everyone in the phone book with a name similar to mine, hoping to scare someone into confessing a debt. (I have never had an outstanding unpaid debt, late or otherwise, so they weren’t coming for me.)

    Do not talk to them or let them know you are alive unless they have something in writing they’ve given to you.

    After months of calling over and over and over and over and over they moved on.

    • LatherRinseRepeat says:


      Haha. I’ve gotten those calls too. But on my cell phone. It’s always a pre-recorded message, something like..

      “We’re looking for _gibberish noise_. We need to speak with you regarding an urgent mattter.”

      A few times they use names that are pretty generic. But most of the time, it was just a slurred, high speed sound.

  13. TrevorYYC says:

    I get calls like this periodically thanks to a horrible old receptionist who would give employee personal information to anybody who called and asked for it, no social engineering required.

    The latest scam is some assholes trying to collect on non-existant $400 domain registrations and the worlds most expensive web hosting.

    They threaten to to take down your website, put up a notice that you have gone out of business and all sorts of other threats.

    The threat lacks much punch with me since I can see the webserver from my desk, but I bet they snag quite a few people in accounts payable who don’t have a clue how much those services actually cost who are threatened with being responsible for having their employers website taken down.

  14. ideagirl says:

    Whenever I buy something at Target, they want to scan my driver’s license. I alway show it to them, but say please don’t scan it, so they manually enter the birth date and we move on. It’s no big deal. Yesterday, the cashier actually lied to me and said my number was going into the system whether it was scanned or not. She was miffed, and obviously thought I was some paranoid conspiracy freak, but I politely said no, please do not scan it.

    This type of scam is exactly what I am concerned about. Who knows who might get their hands on a corporation’s database of my personal, identifying info, including driver’s license? And since I’m paying with my debit card, the two (I am sure) are now tied together in their system. That is just trouble waiting to happen. As we’ve seen here on Consumerist, it only takes one person to get their hands on that data for all hell to break loose.

    • autoclavicle says:

      @ideagirl: That’s weird. What are you buying that requires this? I’ve paid with my debit card before at Target and never been asked for ID and definitely not to have it scanned.

    • Parting says:

      @ideagirl: Why do they ask for your license? Are you buying liquor, or something that need to be legally adult?

      I would freak if I was asked for my birth day, while shopping (enough to commit identity fraud).

    • venomroses says:

      Theres this stupid thing in my city called “barlink”, and what it does is it scans your id card and puts you into a system. These are placed in the bigger bars and such, and so if you ever kicked out, they can put it in the system and warn the other places that have it. What’s (extra) dumb is that you can’t say no to it (not allowed in) but if you “forgot” your id, you can pay to get in.

      Fortunately, I don’t go to any of those bars that have it.

      • tamoko says:

        @venomroses: Barlink?…seriously? Big Brother is watching my girlfriend and I eat wings and drink beer? What city are you in? (And no, this is not a phishing question. LOL!)

  15. johnnya2 says:

    Everybody needs to know even if the debt was a real debt what they said was illegal, and NOBODY can go to jail or be arrested for a debt (the IRS being an exception). I wish these assholes would call me sometime.

    • CrowMignon says:

      @johnnya2: Child support is another exception – technically it is a contempt of court charge if you don’t pay it and you can go to jail over it. Other than those, though, no honestly incurred debt will result in imprisonment.

  16. GothamGal says:

    Great story. It is scary that they can know so much about you. I admire her patience (must be the military experience). I would have freaked out on that idiot.

  17. quail says:

    Always push them for details and contact information. A legit company will give it. These scammers as you saw won’t and will hang up.

    When talking to them, even the legit companies, don’t give them anything they don’t already have. Don’t volunteer information.

  18. RandaPanda says:

    Kudos to Laurie for thinking on her feet with these jerks. It’s scary to think of what kind of info is floating around out there and who might be calling you next. Spam e-mail is one thing (The Nigerian Prince? Please! Trash bin!), but when someone is constantly calling you at home trying to scam you out of your hard earned money, it’s just ridiculous.

  19. Jesse in Japan says:

    Get one of those air horns that annoying people bring to sporting events, get some earplugs for yourself and the next time that guy with a foreign sounding accent calls, just put it right up to the phone’s microphone.

  20. TPK says:

    “They’re coming to arrest you tomorrow at 11AM”

    “OK, that’s fine, I’ll meet them at my local police station, see you there…”

    click…. :-)

  21. Brontide says:

    My rule of thumb is..

    unsolicited + high pressure = scam

    Knowing the fair debt collection rules is a good way to defend against this crap as well since no legitimate firm would break those rules.

  22. Lucky225 says:

    the last part of the article is what ticks me off, the whole you need to pay online or you get screwed. I don’t mind paying online if it’s convenient, but a lot of times they only accept check online, not credit card, then you have to choose if releasing your checking account info online is worth the risk of convenience. Credit Card is much safer as it doesn’t mess with your finances and you can dispute it easily. Then theres your utility companies. I go to pay cash and they charge me a late fee b/c their payment processor didn’t post to my account until 3 days later. Total B.S. I’m paying you cash PLUS a fee, a day before the bill is due, and I still get a late fee, their response, you should have paid online.

  23. DigitalMariner says:

    BEN POPKEN: Now, I have to commend you LAURIE LUCAS because you did a very good job from fending this guy off, and you sound like a real solid citizen and pretty

    Ben, do we really need to bring her physical appearance into this? ;) She may be pretty but is that related to the scam at all?

    • LeoSolaris says:

      @DigitalMariner: I wasn’t the only one who thought that, huh?

      Ya beat me to it by just a couple of minutes. Thats what I get for reading all of the responses before posting.

  24. Meathamper says:

    When 11am comes and they don’t show up, it’ll be really funny.

  25. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Ben: “…you sound like a real solid citizen and pretty-”
    If you read the transcript carefully, he was cut off by Laurie, so he could have been saying “pretty smart” or “pretty clever”.

    Plus, the interview was OVER THE PHONE (Ben: “Where are you CALLING from?”), so it’s “pretty” likely that Ben Popken has no idea what she looks like.

  26. Acolyte says:

    Truly sad the scams that are going around. My question is what role does the origin of the accent have to do with the story? Moreso how did the writer ascertain that the caller was Indian and not Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi or from any other country in the vicinity?
    I’m not playing the race card or anything but I do think it wasn’t a very poignant detail given the large number of companies in America that actually use off shore based call centers to handle their business.

    • Parting says:

      @Acolyte: Just another proof, that the scam is based overseas. (It was in the news.) To avoid easy prosecution.

      Maybe not in India, but very good chances that it’s going on overseas. Since ”basement scammers” from USA would have been traced and arrested by local police.

      Since it’s overseas, different international policing agencies will have to be involved. So everything is much more longer.

  27. Corporate-Shill says:

    Mail it.

    Everybody needs to repeat that phrase until it becomes second nature for them to say the phrase.

    Never “confirm” or “correct” any information via the telephone.

    Just say “Mail me the information” at the address you believe to be correct.

    • lalaland13 says:

      @Corporate-Shill: Ha, and I’ve gotten some obviously fake things mailed to me saying I owe money. Nope, sorry. I love how they say “please pay this amount” and it’s like $40,000. Like sure, let me just get out my checkbook.

      Also, I had some slimy alleged debt collectors calling me, and I tracked down their phone number to somewhere in Ohio. I ended up filing a police report against the company and “Gerald” for harassment. The police said they could call the company and try to tell em to stop, but that was it. Still, it made me feel a little better.

  28. Amy Alkon000 says:

    NEVER give anyone your driver’s license number, or let them see it. That and your name and address are all some thief needs to have to make a fake driver’s license in your name.

    Laurie needs to freeze her credit bureau accounts. Google: security freeze and the name of your state.

    NEVER give out any information to anyone on the phone.

    Also, have the phone company put a trap on your line and when you get a call from this person, make a police report and have their fraud investigators pursue the person. You may have to tell the phone company you’re getting harassing calls. Don’t let on that it’s from a debt collector, even if it’s a fraudster, or they may not let you put the trap and trace on. It cost $5 to do here in California, and yes, I caught the pussyman who was calling me in the middle of the night. Boy, was he surprised when he heard from the LAPD detective.

  29. MrEvil says:

    I think my dad got a call from these same SOBs. Except they threatened that some armed individuals were going to come out to get him. My dad being the ever present old bastard simply told them to come right on over, that he had his gun loaded and ready to go.

  30. theformatter says:

    I think if I got one of these calls, the first thing I would do is ask for contact information so that I could have my lawyer contact them to work out the details.

    I have a feeling that would end the call pretty quickly.

    I’ve used that in the past when I was under the impression I was being scammed or was getting pressure in a business relationship to make changes that I didn’t think would be of any benefit to my side, and it’s surprising how quickly the tone of the discussion changed.

    No, I don’t have a lawyer, but the threat of letting one loose has always been effective.


  31. Snarkysnake says:

    A point that needs to be addressed (IMHO)

    When someone calls you and threatens to sue you in some faraway state,you don’t have anything to worry about. Relax , it’s just a (very) hollow threat. Burn this on your brain : THEY HAVE TO SUE YOU IN YOUR HOME COUNTY. WHERE YOU LIVE,NOT WHERE THEIR OFFICE IS LOCATED ! Now, the assholes may file a lawsuit in their (friendly) court next door,but all you have to do (after being legally served) is send a letter to the court requesting that the suit be dismissed because of inconvenient venue. Then THEY have to hire a local attorney in your town to handle the suit. Expensive,with an uncertain outcome. This means that the amount has to be substantial and they must have a reasonable likelihood of winning to pursue it. Otherwise,they hand it off to a bill collector and call it a day.

    Points : They have to sue you where you live
    You have to be legally served

    So when these assclowns or others like them start hollering that they are going to sue,keep your wits about you and don’t panic.

  32. jkinatl2 says:

    My 81 year old Mom was called and given almost the exact same scam. Shook her up so badly that it took me an hour on the phone to calm her down. She’s been targeted for several phone scams in the last couple of months, and if these losers were within strangling reach, I would cheerfully throttle them.

    Should be a special place in hell for people who frighten old widows.

  33. Roycester says:



    Our research leads us to believe it one of these two outfits using an India call center…

  34. Mp3dog says:

    Talk about long in the tooth… A full transcript of the entire conversation was not necessary. Next time, how about you just write a story pointing out the facts and interesting points. You know, like a WRITER would do.

  35. mariospants says:

    I’m curious as to how they expect to get payment from the OP. Probably they would ask the victim for banking information instead of providing their own banking info. But just in case, it would be good to pry and say “I only have a savings account, can you please give me your banking information?” and present that to the police.

  36. Ein2015 says:

    Reminder: A healthy dose of skepticism in ALL situations is good.

  37. DeafChick says:

    This is why I forwarded all my calls to voicemail; if it is important they will leave a msg.

  38. HogwartsAlum says:

    Why do the posts shrink when I go to page 2 and then I can’t see them?

    If I click on one, it disappears. :

    • motojen says:

      @HogwartsAlum: I thought it was just me. They seem to expand okay early on but as the day goes by they disappear more and more until finally they just dont show up at all!

  39. pwnstar182 says:

    I had a guy call me once and said I won a new Ford F150 and all he needed was my information(including my Social Security number) and it would be mine!

    So I told him my last name was Sanchez los articulos de quarro and I was somewhat illegal. Also I only had 3 digits of my SS#. So I tried to bargan with him if he could send a few tires and a hood for the 3 numbers and go from there. Fun call.

  40. Urgleglurk says:

    Good work, Laurie! I’m sendig the URL for this article to my friends and family.
    We routinely ignore phone calls that come up “Unknown Caller” or for companies that we do not do business with. I wonder how many were trolling for me?

  41. mike says:

    Has anyone ever pulled a

    + Watch video

    “>Tom Mabe?

    I’d love to do the “Sir, you just called into a murder scene.”

    • econobiker says:

      @mike: Not the murder scene deal but I have been politely on the phone with these type of nimrods (and phone solicitors) and asked for them to hold a minute while I yelled (at no one) at the top of my voice, like an insane person about the “cat getting into the sink again”. Usually track through this about two or three times and then lay the bombshell by politely asking again for them to hold and yelling that “that m-fing cat is dead after I get off the phone since I am going to take that flea infested POS outside and chop its head off and put the body through the wood chipper.” This had gotten me off of various phone lists prior to the Do Not Call lists. I’d always politely ask for them to call back later since I had “a little situation to deal with right now.” Never got call backs for some reason…

      BTW: I do not own nor have ever owned a cat.

  42. crazedhare says:

    I know others have said this, but I just want to add kudos to Ms. Lucas for keeping cool and rational in this situation and sharing the story, and great interviewing by Ben. This is probably one of the most positive, useful things I’ve seen here in awhile. The compassion shown for those who do get caught by this horrible nonsense is a nice break from “blame the consumer”.

  43. theczardictates says:

    “11am is bad for me. How about 1pm? I could do 1pm”

  44. pantsonfire says:

    I think this presents an opportunity to play two scammers off of one another. For example you could tell the fake debt collector that you will send them a check. Then get the fake Nigerian prince to issue a check using the info you got from scammer A. I’m not sure what the repercussions would be for either scammer but I would love to find out.

  45. homebrewer302 says:

    Does this guy have a brother named Cory or a teacher named Mr. Feeny?

  46. CaptainConsumer says:

    Because most police agencies will tell you where and when they plan to arrest you. Why I used to see it all the time on the old show FBI with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. He’d tell a con man or other bad guy “Look see, I’m gonna be arresting you tomorrow at 11 AM. I suggest you make yourself available at your home. By the way is your Social Security number 999-00-4545?”

    Yep, made the cuff like that every week he did.

  47. mamacat49 says:

    I just got one of these calls! I just kept repeating “REALLY?!” through out the whole thing. When I finally said, “Well, I guess I’ll just take my chances” he finally told me that if I wasn’t going to be serious about my “debt on my Walmart credit card” that he certainly couldn’t help me and he hung up on me. The caller ID had no number and he was definitely NOT from Chicago (or anywhere else on this continent).

  48. j0npeterson says:

    It would be awesome to work these guys against the Nigerian check scammers…

    Have them send these Legal Affidavit scammers a fake check and let them hang on the hook for the money.