(WASHINGTON COUNTY) - Detective Brent Miller of the Washington County Sheriff's Department is warning residents of a new scam.
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader-Democrat reports that this scam is especially offensive because it targets a population that can ill afford to lose money.
Miller says, the perpetrators obtain information on their victims, then calls them, pretending to be representatives of the loan business. The caller threatens the person, sometimes even saying they are going to have them arrested.
Miller says a local woman's adult daughter borrowed money from a quick loan business sometime in the past. She had been told the remaining amount had been written off.
However, they began receiving threatening phones calls, supposedly from the loan business, saying the woman had a certain amount of time to pay or she would be arrested and would lose her disability payment.
"He gets really, really hateful," says Miller, who said the caller had a heavy Indian accent - a sign the call may be a scam.
The scam artist told the woman she would be arrested. "He scared them into going to the bank and sending a $1,000 moneygram," Miller says. A few minutes later, the man called back and said it wasn't enough, they had to send another $800.
They didn't have the money and at that point went to the sheriff's department.
Miller actually talked to the man, who called the woman while she was at the department. He told the man the woman would not send any more money and directed him to fax information. He says he was surprised to receive a fax.
"All kinds of bells and whistles went off" when he examined the fax, he says. "There were spelling errors, no address - those are all signs it's a scam."
Miller says there's virtually no hope the woman will recover her $1,000.
"There are thousands of these off-shore call centers," Miller says. "Money is gone; they will never get it back."
He only wishes the woman would've alerted law enforcement immediately. No legitimate business would use the tactics the scammer used, Miller says. He noted loan companies are prohibited by law from making threats and cannot harass customers. A person will not be arrested for not making a loan payment and people will not have their Social Security or disability taken away because they're late on loan payments.
"If there's any doubt at all, call the police first," he says. "Don't go to the bank, don't send money."
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