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Written by: Mike Yang

Ohio and Michigan have recently been inundated with calls pretending to be a collection agency or police officer.  The fraudsters are targeting the most vulnerable people, demanding that they pay off a debt they never incurred and threatening them with arrest if they don’t quickly comply.  The Better Business Bureau recently issued an alert after numerous complaints.  Below are a few excerpts;

“A “collector” called my cell, work number, and employer demanding money that I owed. I explained that I did not know what debt they were referring to and to please send me something in writing. The gentleman was very verbally abusive and kept repeating my address over and over again saying that he was going to come to my home tonight and collect the money one way or another. He told me that he would call my place of employment constantly and get me fired from my job. I told him that if this was a legitimate debt he needed follow the proper legal channels and that he was violating the fair debt collection practices act.”


“The company has called my home, place of work and relatives indicating I owe a payday loan. They have my social security number, date of birth, email and home address. Forcing me to pay $1200 for a bad payday loan or I will be prosecuted and turned over to the police department and FBI if I don’t pay the money ASAP. I asked for proof of the debt and I was talked to rudely and told to get a lawyer.”

According to the Livingston Daily News the caller tries to obtain personal information by claiming to be a police officer or a representative of a debt collection agency.   The fraudster spoofs the caller ID so that it displays ‘Howell Police Department’, gives a fake police officers name, and then threatens to put the individual in jail if they do not immediately pay.
It has been difficult for the FTC to crack down on phone fraud because it is estimated that at least 2.5 million calls have come from fraudsters operating overseas, particularly in India.  They appear to target struggling Americans – especially those that have gone online and applied for payday loans.  One fraudster was recorded stating:

“Subpoenas have been readied, and Monday morning you’re going to be picked up from your home… And you have children. Don’t worry about your children. We have a childcare department to take care of the children.”

In the United States, law enforcement officers do not collect debt, nor can you go to jail for unpaid debt.
For more coverage of phantom debt collection, see this report from ABC.