This is an offshore payday loan debt collection extortion scam that has been going on for at least five years. The FBI is aware of it but is unable to go after those involved due to lack of money and manpower. I looked back and found some old information which may prove to be helpful:
They obtained your information through Teletrack:
Kudos to "Sam" for giving the most intelligent and informative posts on this scam. READ, Bookmark and use as needed:
I have been receiving phone calls from this group since late April / early May of 2010. There is a good chance that they also attempted to contact me roughly two years ago before I entered into Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection, as I faintly remember hearing the same script more or less.
As others have stated, the callers are difficult to understand. Generally speaking their command of the English language is quite poor and their accents are hard to follow. At times they will get certain words or phrases mixed up. It would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that they had:
a) Your SSN
b) Your home address
c) Your work address
d) Your banking info
e) Names, numbers and potentially the addresses of "references"
f) A complete and total lack of ethics and a basic understanding of the FDCPA.
I have personally filed reports with the following agencies, often with limited (if any) success:
my state's Attorney General's office
Generally the local police won't be able to help much. The callers are using a combination of prepaid cell phones and VoIP, making them difficult to trace. Also at their disposal are various spoofing tactics being implemented to catch people off guard - meaning the number that appears on your Caller ID isn't the number that is calling you for starters. Without gaining a subpoena for the billing information for the numbers in question, the local police won't be able to get very far.
My state's Attorney General's office couldn't offer much assistance either. I received a form letter in the mail that my complaint was received and I would be contacted if they needed additional info. It was more or less the same information I obtained from the FTC. They each advised me not to give the individuals over the phone any account information or to authorize payment. That's just common sense, though.
I never got anything from the FBI, either. There is a good chance that since I haven't suffered a monetary loss that my concerns are low on the totem pole. I hate to say this, but that is truly the case. Unless you were in the hole for a $1,000 (or more) you aren't going to get much more than "sorry to hear about your situation, change your phone number and move on". I seemed to get some activity from the Secret Service. I spoke with agent Doug Zloto. (Google him, referencing threads like these plus his name and you'll find his number also) He seemed to care a bit more than the average person, but after giving him access to my Google Voice account, there has been no further activity from him that I'm aware of.
In the meantime I changed the wireless number the fraudsters had access to, they have no direct way to get a hold of me. (Calls at work have ceased for some reason) That in turn resulted in my "references" getting phone calls from the crooks. Here is a word of caution for women that have been getting these calls - don't say anything and just hang up. The callers are quite abusive towards women callers. Why? Possibly the culture. If they are Indian / Pakistani, women are second class citizens there. You will be treated like garbage. This happened to a family member when she was trying her best to be extremely nice over the phone.
The callers currently attempt to reach me through the female family member and an unused Google Voice number that they managed to find of mine. I keep the Google Voice number open because, well, I can't delete it yet. So, about every day, 4-5 times a day for the last week, I get voice messages from them. It's usually just two full messages though - the other calls are broken up with static or they are attempts to read the script until the callers then screw up. Really, they are that adamant on getting the script 100% that they will hang up mid-sentence and call back 30 seconds later.
At this point it's a stalemate with these people.
1) While they have the lion's share of information on us, they can't really do anything with this information.
Why? Think about it.
If they were to ever take funds out of your account without authorization, it's fraud and worse (for them) it is traceable. That's why they won't do anything with your information, contrary to threats they make. The money from your account has to go somewhere, and either your bank or a law enforcement agency can determine where the money was routed. As a bank customer you are protected - you'd get the stolen money back in your account after 7-10 business days and the bank would be temporarily out the funds deducted from your account while they conducted their investigation. The bank, along with law enforcement, would track down the fraudsters and apprehend them. The fraudsters do not want to incur the wrath of a bank, just extort money out of you. Remember that.
Your authorization would absolve the bank from any and all liability, leaving you holding the bag. Never give them authorization for anything - for all you know the call is recorded.
2) We have no information on them.
Seriously, this has been going on at least since 2008, possibly longer than that based on some accounts. (6 years??? Holy crap!) You would think someone would have slipped up by now. Sadly, they haven't. We can continue to grow our own intel on them and compile lists of aliases and phone numbers used, along with paraphrases of scripts used in order to educate other victims. I'm actually putting together a site now in the meantime where I'll host audio files and lists of previous numbers used. 800notes.com is great, but no two calls are exactly the same. It would be nice to have a site dedicated to the scam and how it works.
So that's where I am with these calls. I have suffered no monetary loss, though I have been harassed both at home and at work. They threaten me with arrest and other "fun" things in order to get me convinced I have to pay them. My friends and family have been targeted and local and federal law enforcement agencies haven't been able to put a stop to things. So, it is what it is. I am out a wireless phone number I had for roughly six years, which is terrible since I was using that line when looking for a new job.
Whenever I'm bored I spoof my number using Google Voice and return the calls. I've called them the poster children for birth control, etc. Basically a lot of nasty things that I'm sure the moderators here wouldn't appreciate me repeating - bottom line nothing nice. I always like to close saying their parents must be real proud knowing their sons weren't man enough to get real jobs. That usually gets a decent response.
Way I see it - they can't do anything to me. (Despite a threat yesterday that my life would be f'ed up) They can threaten all they want but my credit is frozen and my bank information has changed. I've changed the only number they could really access me directly on and I've instructed my employer and family to not answer the calls. I just call and harass them now when I find a few extra seconds. What's the worst they can do to me? Charge me with harassment?
Nope, then they would have to identify themselves.
Oh, and don't bother contacting Cashnet USA about the calls. Their "fraud" department could honestly care less. Their "investigation" is merely a means of buerocratic CYA. I would even be surprised at this point if actual law enforcement is involved in any shape, way or form at this time.
There is a good chance that the information these crooks have on us was obtained from Cashnet USA - either from a database leak or from a collector that was once authorized by Cashnet to call on delinquent customers. The other chance is they have access to Teletrack, and pulled all of our information off of there.
For at least the last four years, possibly longer, a group has been calling former payday loan applicants advising them that they have defrauded a bank and are now being sued for non-payment of a loan. The callers will claim to be calling on behalf of an attorney's office (name varies), the Dept. of Law and Investigation, ACS, or other similar combinations below:
United Legal Processing Division
Crime Monitoring Services
Monetary Crime Division
U.S. National Bank
Attorney General?s Office (usually in California)
American Legal Services
Affidavit Consolidation Services (ACS)
You will be threatened with arrest, a costly trial and possibly worse. In no shape, way or form can you be arrested for non-payment on a consumer debt. Do not believe these threats, as they are without merit and cannot be carried out in the manner they allege.
Who are they?
In the past when pressed by law enforcement for an address, the callers have provided the following information:
David Morgan and Associates
Morgan & Associates
1155 Northwest 85th Street
Wintergarden, Florida 33150
(Address is likely invalid)
The collector's MO matches a once legit collections agency called Ellis Crosby & Associates. Here are some links on them:
They have been previously fined over $1.3 million for various violations. They have been known to use phone banks in India to make their calls, which more or less coincides with the difficult to understand accent many of us detect when we are contacted.
The last time this group went by any "official" name was back in 2008:
Ellis Crosby & Associates / Douglas & Morgan Associates
4494 Southside Boulevard Suite #200
Jacksonville Florida 32216
Phone: 800-928-3536 / (904) 928-3536
(Address is likely invalid)
There are NUMEROUS consumer alerts out against this group of individuals:
On July 15th, 2010 a Public Awareness Bulletin was sent out by Missouri Information Analysis Center.
"..received reports from individuals in Ohio and Illinois reference suspicious telephone calls they received. In both instances, the callers are reporting that a voicemail is received from a man, with a Middle Eastern accent, identifying himself as an officer working with the Financial Crimes Unit. The message indicates that the reason for the call concerns a loan made by the receiver or someone in the receiver's family. The voicemail requests that a return call be made and a telephone number is provided. When a return call is made, the caller is asked to provide personal identifying information such as their date of birth and social security number.
Reports indicate that the calls are frequent and persistent and that they even threaten arrest or legal action if information or money is not provided. It appears that the individuals making these calls may have access to some records connecting individuals and their relatives. Missouri does not have a Financial Crimes Unit and all indications are that this is a fictitious agency. If you receive a similar phone call, please be advised that it is a scam and please contact your local law enforcement agency or the Missouri Information Analysis Center at 866-362-6422."
Do not supply the callers with any additional information. Inform them you have reported them to law enforcement and hang up. If you haven't already, go ahead and report the calls to local law enforcement, your state's Attorney General and beyond. Look up the local Secret Service branch's information in your area and get in contact with an agent there.
If you ever applied for a cash advance online, your information is out there.
Possible sources for the breach of your privacy are:
* The scammers obtained your information from Teletrack - a reporting agency used by many cash advance lenders to determine their risk lending to you. The service is able to tell cash advance lenders if you have existing loans with other companies, for example. Many state laws prohibit borrowers from having more than two cash advances out at the same time.
* The scammers created their own fake payday loan application site. People looking for a cash advance went to the site and applied, thus freely providing the scammers with their information for malicious use at a later time.
* The scammers were able to get into the database(s) of cash advance lenders - probable targets being Sonic Payday and Cashnet USA.
How to protect yourself:
* Inform your employer. You are likely getting calls at home and/or at work, so make sure your employer is aware the calls are part of a scam and to not take them seriously. Advise the callers that they are no longer allowed to call you at work. If they continue to call, document the date and time of the calls you received. Save voice mails left if at all possible.
* Change your number(s). For some this may not be an option, for others a one-time number change can be done free of charge.
Be advised - any references you listed on your payday loan application will be contacted. Let those people know that this is a scam, and they can disregard.
* Use Google Voice. Google Voice is a great replacement voice mail system for just about any phone number you use. Messages can be transcribed and voice mail recordings can be saved as mp3 files.
Pro Tip - call the scammers with a Google Voice number before turning off your old phone numbers. Make sure when you call you identify yourself so they can start up their script. At any point after they have your information pulled up just hang up. They will then start religiously calling your Google Voice number. At this point, you are free to change your regular phone number(s) and enjoy not having these people ever call you again. (And laugh at the fact these people are basically talking to a brick wall several times a day)
The scammers change their numbers frequently. Law enforcement used to think it was because the callers ran out of minutes on their prepaid wireless accounts or they were shuttered due to fraud, but now they understand it's simply to evade detection by savvy consumers online. With the proliferation of VoIP, it's even easier for the crooks to stay a couple of steps ahead of law enforcement. Below is just a sampling of the 30+ numbers that have been used in recent memory.
It's not a simple yes or no answer. Logic dictates that, if they really wanted to take you for a ride and drain your bank accounts, they already would have.
So, why haven't they?
Why do you think you are being called so much? Perhaps it is because they like the sound of your voice? No, they have to have your authorization to take any form of payment from you, period. The callers know their audience, and that audience is typically a bunch of people that have applied for payday loans in the past. Most of those people they call couldn't afford an attorney if they wanted one, and are so used to receiving collections calls that so long as they sound like a real collector, they will likely be perceived as one.
Furthermore, they don't even really want to talk to your attorney - that just sounds official and scary enough. A real attorney would take the callers to task and write them off as two-bit con artists. The callers need you, in writing, to authorize payment against the fictitious debt they claim you owe. Go ahead, ask them for proof you owe the debt - more commonly known as verification of debt. See what they say. A phone authorization carries very little weight, so if they have something signed by you on file, you are done for - and the callers know that. That authorization is the only thing these callers are doing by the book, and for good reason. If they just went all willy nilly and made an ACH debit from your checking account, without your written approval, you could in turn report the transaction as fraudulent to your financial institution. In about 7-10 business days, you would get the funds returned to your account. Then the scammers would be up against a bank and their team of lawyers and investigators.
If you haven't paid the callers a dime, don't. If you planned on paying them to shut them up, just don't. Remember - you are not being contacted by a legally licensed, ethically owned and operated collector. Read up on the FDCPA - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf - and know your rights.
PS--The FBI sent out a Press Release on this scam just last week:
Extortion Scam Related to Delinquent Payday Loans
December 07, 2010 FBI National Press Office
? filed under: Press Release
The Internet Crime Complaint Center has received many complaints from victims of payday loan telephone collection scams. Callers claim the victim is delinquent in a payday loan and must repay the loan to avoid legal consequences. The callers purport to be representatives of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, various law firms, or other legitimate-sounding agencies. They claim to be collecting debts for companies such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net, and other Internet check-cashing services.
According to complaints received from the public, the callers have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the fraudsters obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.
The fraudsters relentlessly call the victim?s home, cell phone, and place of employment. They refuse to provide any details about the alleged payday loans and become abusive when questioned. The callers have threatened victims with legal actions, arrests, and, in some cases, physical violence if they do not pay. In many cases, the callers harass victims? relatives, friends, and employers.
Some fraudsters have instructed victims to fax a statement agreeing to pay a certain amount, on a specific date, via a pre-paid Visa card. The statement further declares the victim will never dispute the debt.
If you receive these calls, do not follow the caller?s instructions. Rather, you should:
Notify your banking institutions.
Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
Never give your Social Security number?or personal information of any kind?over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. The e-mail may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get you to react immediately.
Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information.
Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
When you contact companies, use numbers provided on the back of cards or statements
I've just started getting these calls saying almost the exact same thing. I've made reports to the FTC and my state's department of finance.
I have been getting the exact same phone calls from this number. I have been told the exact same information with the exact dollar amount of $315. They some how found my home phone number, my cell phone, and now are calling my husbands work phone. If you have any suggestions on what to do or that you did to make them stop calling, please let me know. I talked to an attorney and said to tell them that I won't do anything until I recieve something in the mail or get served with papers and they hang up on me. I have been told the name is John Martin most recently but it has been different names in the past and also different numbers. I hadn't heard from them for almost four months so I thought I dealt with it but they just started calling again and call daily. I am so frustrated.
I received the same same call today and when I called back he gave me the same 2 options as he gave the previous poster. These guy's are unbelievable, I got a call last week from another one and when I told him nothing has ever been deposited into my checking account from anyone he said he would talk to his client. That was Friday of last week and as of Monday the number is not a good number can't get through at all keeps saying all circuits are busy try again later. That number was 281-407-0172. What a scam these guy's are.
I received a voicemail at work and on my cell from the same Indian person that has called in the past. This is a scam and I believe the way they trigger the times in which they call, is when the person they're calling has any unresolved outstanding debt. They have access to the same information that the legitimate lender has (not true dollar amounts or loan details but contact information) and they refuse to provide bills or documentation. I know so many people that have been robbed by this group and I pray that somehow it's brought to an end. We all work hard for our money and can't afford to be continually robbed by these scammers. My best advice is DON'T TALK TO THEM!!!!
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As a former bill collector, legitimately for both credit card companies and automobile manufacturers, I can tell you that the experiences you're reporting constitute a violation, in several regards, of the FDCPA (Federal Debt Collections Practices Act). I'd suggest you read up on and familiarize yourself with the FDCPA so you can be better prepared to handle these clowns in the future.
i have recieved many phone calls from this number yesterday, saying i own $315, and that my bank statements are not valid proof because "you can add or delete transactions" he said. the first caller, was justin brown. the second caller with a heavier accent was denzel anderson. he threathed if i filed a complaint he would come find me, and that he will make my life horrible. they have called me at work, twice - the city officer i talked to yesterday about this situation told me not to answer, so i havent. they told me, i will be arrested today at 10am from either my home or my work, than called back and said you have 48 hours. the city officer tried calling and they hung up on him. i asked for documentation stating i signed for this loan, and he said you will see it in court. he said, for me to show proof i didnt sign for the loan, i want proof that i did sign. these people are harrassing. i am tired of it already. he also called me from another number, and when i tried to call it back - the number was either diconnected, or the number was changed. ridculous!
I posted my comments in a reply on a similar scam, threatening phone calls claiming legal action will be taken soon because of a loan that was deposited into my account that was never paid back. His name that he gave was James Wilson and he said he was calling from the financial crime department. If you call the number back that popped up on the caller i.d. there is the same male voice with a very HEAVY accent informing the caller that they have reached the financial crime department, (which sounds very serious, very legal, very government sourced).........but there is alot of distortion in the recorded greeting, and then a very CHEAP old (1983 model answering machinesound) BEEP, like from an answering machine in someones basement, not the tone you'd think you'd be hearing supposedly from a branch of government that has a department SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS KIND OF FRAUD, and apparantely the one and only detective that has called is also the voice on the answering machine. Instead of being from the fraud department I think someone may have had one to many red bulls on there flight from the far away foreign country they hail from and watched a marathon of CSI or Law and Order and now feel they have the needed skills and know how to pull off one of the many Scams offered today in our lovely little world. How sad and insulting that someone so stupid took me for an idiot even bigger than them, and there is virtually nothing a person or the real police can even do, but they can't escape karma, and boy will they have there day
This number keeps calling my home and my job and I NEED IT TO STOP!
I have been getting the same calls and what law firm sayings may god have mercy on you.
I just rec'd a call from this same number, a non-English speaking man, saying he was calling from the Financial Crime Dept, stated if I didn't call him back the only thing he could do is wish me luck against the wrath headed my way. Who the heck are these people?!
I got the same exact call except the Indian said he was officer so and so from Hopkins Law firm same thing I owe money I said if there is legal action against me send me a certified letter in the mail stop harrassing me at work and on my cell. He keeps calling he even got a hold of my sisters cell some how and has been harrassing her too! UNREAL how does this happen?!?!??
Got a call at work from this number saying they were with a group of attorneys seeking to settle a financial fraud. He kept saying "state attorny's" (though he did sound like a debt collector form India). I have gotten calls from numbers like these before (I have very bad credit that Im trying to rebuild). He gave me two option to settle my debt which he did not provide any information accept that it was from a company called payday advance (whom Ive never taken a loan from). He said I have 2 options : 1. go to court next week and risk getting fired (which I know I can't be fired for debt) or 2. settle this out of court. I basically replied you can't subpoena me over the phone. He replied he would send one to my work. Very annoyed but I am still not sure if this is a scam. Im gonna wait for that subpoena. . .