Hello I got calls from that number too today! Funny they left a different call back # trying to scam me UGH
I just got a call on my verizon from this number and some indian guy said he was from New York telling me I had criminal charges against my name and social. Also said I needed to check my mail cause I should have paperwork. I told him not to call me again that he needs to stop trying to scam me and I hung up. The idiot called right back screaming at me that I had to listen to him. I told him to go to hell and hung up on the moron. If we had issues with our SS#, in most cases, the SS office would contact us.
By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross) , CINDY GALLI and MATTHEW MOSK (@mattmosk)
June 7, 2012
Hundreds of thousands of cash-strapped Americans have been targeted by abusive debt collectors operating out of overseas call centers suspected of links to organized crime in India, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The calls are part of a massive scam, one that appears to target struggling Americans -- especially those who have gone online to apply for payday loans. Armed with personal information from those pilfered applications, the threatening callers, who claim to be debt collectors poised to initiate legal action, have managed to pry loose millions of dollars from their victims -- even when the victims never owed money in the first place.
"This is what we call a phantom debt collection scam," said Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. "It's a very pernicious and innovative new fraud."
Working through call centers in India, the commission estimates that the criminals have dialed at least 2.5 million calls, persuading already cash-strapped victims to send them more than $5 million. Some have reported receiving dozens of calls per hour. They are victims like Cindy Gervais, of New Orleans, who went online for a quick loan when her husband's car was hit by a driver who didn't have insurance.
Even though she paid the loan off, the so-called "phantom" debt collectors with Indian accents began calling to say she still owed money.
He more or less told me that if I didn't pay, they were going to have someone on my doorstep to arrest me," she told ABC News. "And that they were going to contact my place of business, and tell them what kind of person I am."
At first, she said she resisted. Then the calls became more frequent, and started to ring on her cell phone, and at the grocery distribution company where she had worked for 27 years.
"I was more or less was in panic mode because he told me there would be someone before noon at my place of business to arrest me and take me to jail," she said tearfully. "So I agreed to pay him."
After receiving scores of complaints, investigators with the FTC said they began tracking the calls, and following the payments. They alleged the payments led them to a California company run by an Indian-American named Kirit Patel, and that such scams would not be possible without American front men.
"I would say that all roads of this scam, or many of the roads of this scam, lead back to Mr. Patel," said the FTC's Leibowitz.
ABC News tracked Patel for weeks, from the suburbs of San Francisco to Austin, Texas.
Patel refused to talk. But his lawyer, Mark Ellis, said he believes it is far too early to pass judgment on his client. Ellis, a Sacramento-based attorney, told ABC News that Patel was hired for a nominal fee to set up an American shell company, and had no idea what the call centers in India were doing.
"I can tell you, he was as snookered by the people in India as anybody," Ellis said. "He's a 69-year-old man who is nearing his retirement who thought all he had to do was set up some corporations and everything was on the up and up. He's completely dismayed that he has become the lightning rod of this entire problem."
A close friend of Patel's also defended him in a brief interview at his home, saying Patel was not trying to defraud anyone -- he was just an unwitting, bit player in a larger scheme.
"If Mr. Patel was just a cog in the wheel he seems to have been a pretty big cog," Leibowitz said. "It is clear that Patel was integrally involved with this scam."
Leibowitz points to thousands of pages of financial and phone records gathered by the FTC and filed as part of a civil case brought against him in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento last month. When FTC lawyers sought to freeze his assets and prevent his business from continuing to operate, Patel responded by invoking his rights against self-incrimination. His lawyer told ABC News he has had to be careful in how he responds to the allegations in civil court "because there is a potential criminal action," but that Patel maintains the allegations against him are false.
Federal investigators said the phantom debt collection operation that allegedly benefitted from Patel's assistance was one of several that all trace back to the same small town in Western India called Ahmedabad. Callers use technology to make it appear that the calls originate inside the U.S. Victims provided ABC News with recordings of dozens of the calls, and many of the thickly accented callers appear to be reading off a script.
"Subpoenas have been readied, and Monday morning you're going to be picked up from your home," one caller says on a victim's voicemail. "And you have children. Don't worry about your children. We have a childcare department to take care of the children."
"You will be behind bars for six months," said another caller. "And once you go behind bars, you will lose your job. Once you are behind the bars, you won't get a single drop of water."
William Peerce Howard, a Tampa attorney who represents victims of harassment from debt collectors, said it takes an especially twisted criminal to use threats and coercion to pry money from someone who is already struggling financially
"These guys really are the most visible villains in America today," he said. "They make a living scaring people."
Mark Merola, of Florida, said he just panicked when the caller told him he might be arrested at the deli where he works in a Florida retirement community.
"I was nervous. I didn't want to embarrass myself, my family," he said. He used his debit card to pay the collector $576.
Afterwards, he says he realized "how stupid I was."
"It just happened so fast," he said. "I got scared."
Leibowitz said he hopes with more attention, future potential targets of the scam will recognize red flags before they turn over any money.
If callers say they are from the police, consumers should know that law enforcement officers do not collect debt for private parties. If the caller is speaking with a thick Indian accent, but calls themselves by a names such as Officer Mike Johnson, that should be a tip off. And if they're calling 40 times in two hours, that's another red flag. "Legitimate debt collectors, legitimate pay day lenders don't do those sorts of things," he said.
Merola said he would like to see anyone involved in the scam prosecuted aggressively.
"There's no place in society for these people," he said.
These people call me at work all the time leaving nasty messages. This needs to stop ASAP.
I will never request another loan online. I am not sure how they get your information in the first place.
I keep telling whoever calls from this phone number to stop calling and to send their request in writing. They just continue to yell at me and I hang up. Now I've stopped answering and they continue to dial the phone over and over and over non-stop.
I have started receiving calls from this number in the past week. I also live in the Tampa Bay Area in Pasco County. Added note last week I reported a bad charge on my checking account to my bank. The charge was made on a card legitimately issued to me by my bank, however I had never received it.
The debit card was used at a local restraunt. It was only after reporting the charge to the bank and having the card number blocked that I began to get calls from this number.
I am in Saint Louis,Mo. I work at a government facility and these guys do not care they have called me 30 times each day for the last week. I found an article on nightline concerning the scam they on doing on americans. The women and the elder pay up due to the threat of losing their jobs,having their children taken away, having them arrested, and harrasement. According to the article the have collected 4.2 million american dollars.
I received a call from an very hard to understand man from 347-347-0123 saying I had court action against me for "3 CF allocations". When I asked exactly what these were, I was told that I had not only tried to take out a loan with CashatUSA using wrongful information, but I received this loan and did not pay it back. He would only tell me that he was an attorney working out of New York and my case was due in court today.
I ask how exactly I was supposed to appear in court when I 1. haven't received legal notification (this was replied with his call was legal notification), 2. I was in a completely different state (this was replied with him saying I would have to fly up to New York by this afternoon)
Considering I got the call at 12:58pm, I told him to go right ahead with the supposed legal action. This is when he hung up on me.
I too received a call last Friday, Indian accent could barely understand him, caller identified himself as "Eric Johnson". Told me I have a legal matter and have the last four of my social. The phone number to call back was 347-491-5135. Couldn't understand what company for sure, BCS or something like that, he said he was in the "legal office". After his speach he told me to have a blessed day.....I think....hard to understand.
Oh they also left their call back number as 347-514-8481 but yet it was 347-347-0123 they called from
Just had the same exact thing on my cell's voicemail; but the guy also sounded like he couldn't read the cue cards that were sitting right in front of him. It's all a scam and rediculous they like targeting people who are just making it by and actually manage to stay out of debt.
I received a call from this number 347-347-0123 also the number is 347-289-5408. They have bad accent and show they are calling from China saying I have legal matter again my social security number. I live in NYC. I have sprint cell phone. I had put the do not call registery and will try again to stop them for calling..
Just missed a call from them on 7/26/12 @ 4:30pm. I'm in Tampa. Glad I googled the phone number! If they call back, I will not answer my phone.
get in line
This is the 2nd time that I've received a call from these idiots. A couple of months ago I told them that I had reported them to the FTC and asked them if they knew what the Fair Debt Collections Act was all about. He then began using profanity so I knew for sure it was a scam. Anyway, received another call today on my verizon and they left a voicemail indicating that if I don't call back within 24 hours I was going to be faced with prosecution and/or legal action. They can't speak a lick of english....get lost dirtbags.
I got the same call 5 times yesterday. and when you call the number back it says it has been disconnected and no longer in service they are scanners trying to get money from people and they live in India and you can't understand them very good at all.
started getting a few calls a day from this # no messages left I have no idea who they are I don't answer the phone if I don't know the number. They are annoying since they call every hours it seems like and it just started today. I assume it's a scam if it was a legit debt it would be in writing and sent to my home address otherwise don't give them any money of any kind
I am in Nebraska. Call went to voicemail at 1045 this morning. Heavily accented caller states he is from a law office in new york, and that there are "at least three criminal charges" pending against me. He also says that I need to call them back right away to avoid "lawsuits being filed". He was able to give the last four of my social "for verification".
I do have several outstanding debts from the last several years, including losing my home to foreclosure, due to divorce and the economy. I am working with a bankruptcy attorney, and will be referring this caller to him if they should call again.
I got a called from thise number 347-347-0123 and 347-28-5408 its associated together. I heard the voice mail saying there is a legal matter against my social security number. If its collection then they need to do better business. The person having accent and sound like they are calling from china.
Reciving calls at work from these scammers Puting in a FTC complaint as we speak Calling in as David Jones...from India ...
i got the same call on 7/25/12 around 6:30 pm and i also live in the tampa bay area. i did apply for a quick cash loan and now starting to wonder if they got my information through this company (Eastside Lenders) i will be calling them today to find out if they have had any calls about this fraud.
I live on St. Pete Beach and have an 813 number for my cell. They told me they were with the Police Department - so I just hung up.
same as others stated... 347-347-0123... claims my credit card was lost and to enter my account. Im on the do not call list.. 813- number.
I received this call on my Google Voice number today at 6:25pm Eastern.
"Your debit card has been locked. To reactivate it please press 1 now, and you will be transferred to our security department."
It was just a computerized voice, not even a real person. I was out, so I didn't know about the call, only the voicemail notification.
I only get phone spam on my Google Voice number. No companies have it for anything legitimate, so I can say 100% it is a scam.
And yes, my Google Voice number is in the Tampa area. Judging by all the Tampa people reporting it, they're war dialing Tampa exchanges. For those who said they were calling about Grow Financial, they're only doing it, because it's a local bank. I'm sure it has nothing to really do with Grow.
For those who don't know Grow, they're *only* in the Tampa area. They wouldn't be using a service in New York to handle these calls.
I just got a call from 347-347-0123 .. I have a Fl. 727 number .. I am also on the do not call list .. This concerns me !!
A***OLES GOT NOTING BETTER TO DO WITH THIER LIFE
Can't Scam Me India!
Wow! I just got a call from this number as well! I received it at about 5pm today! It was automated and was the ol' "Debit Card is locked..." deal. I had just used a debit card earlier and thought it was for that transaction. But realized they wouldn't have called me to tell me anything let alone not give a name of the company. And it was automated. I actually got scared because I knew it was a scam and hung up! They called me on a Tracfone that i've had for a couple of years now. Thanks India! Thought you were our friends? Guess we need to start throwing money to Pakistan again or having our drones patrol into India! Guess it would just be easier for the U.S. to carpet bomb from Pakistan to China. Then we wouldn't have to worry about any debts, fictious or real!
Grow Financial not Growth
Live in Manatee County and received a call from this number on my home # which I have DNC. i recognize 347 since its a NY number thought it was a family member calling turned out to be a recording stating their calling from Growth Financial and my debit card has been blocked, press 1 to have your call transfer to our fraud department...I don't think so. Don't have an account with Growth Financial
Got a call with a VM that was one second long. Looked at the Internet to see who these do***e bags are. I am in Tampa area too and do not have a debit card at all. I hate scammers of any kind. USA is becoming just like Nigeria and India in terms of corrupt people - how can I make a quick buck without working for it.