DENVER (CBS4) – Earlier this year the Federal Trade Commission busted a scam operation out of India they say netted $5 million. The scammers were calling people, harassing them to pay off payday loans they didn’t owe and threatening their victims with arrest.
Recently a CBS4 viewer got one of the calls and contacted 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks to check it out.
The scammers are aggressive and threatening. They hope they can scare people into paying up. Shameca Farris got messages on her personal phone and calls at her work place.
“I felt violated,” Farris said.
The caller said she owed a payday loan, which she didn’t.
“They said that if I had $600 it would resolve the issue and it would go away,” she said.
The caller said if she didn’t pay up she would be arrested.
“They’re preying on that fact that you don’t want to be arrested, especially at your place of employment and endure the embarrassment,” Farris said.
At first Farris was scared.
“It was just horrible; horrible.”
“As scary as it may sound … it really is nothing more than a scam,” Joe Morales with the Denver District Attorney’s Office said.
It’s a scam Morales says he hears all too often.
“The only people that can arrest you are law enforcement, and we don’t have debtors prison, and people can’t go to jail for not paying their debts,” Morales said.
The scammers claim to be from American Legal Services. A company with the same name has a scam alert on its website. It warns of offshore scammers using the name American Legal Services. A search of the telephone number brings up pages and pages of complaints about the same scam.
“Kind of stay level-headed and calm,” Farris said. “If you need to talk to someone around you that’s on the outside of the situation, talk to them. That helped me a lot.”
Legitimate debt collectors have to send information about debts in writing. So the first defense against any collection call is to ask them to send the details in the mail.