A client of mine has been receiving calls at home and work from a “collection agency” saying they are going to haul him off to jail and press charges against him if he does not pay the money he owes.
When I called the number provided., 1-904-410-2217, I spoke with a man who put me on hold to transfer me to their attorney. When the attorney picked up the line he sounded just like the gentleman who answered the phone. Nevertheless, he claimed to be a lawyer with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (see http://www.fincen.gov/ for the official government site). He said his name was “George Schneider.” He said he was being paid very well by the FinCen and didn’t need to speak with me.
Mr. Scneider, who sounded more like an Ahmed, refused to provide me with any information about the alleged case or crimes and told me he would only speak with a criminal lawyer.
I asked him for his attorney bar number. He refused.
I asked him for the case or file number. He refused.
I asked him for his address. He refused.
I asked to speak with his supervisor. He refused and got angry.
He demanded my client call him back personally or he was going to jail.
That’s NOT how an attorney reacts to another’s call in the real world.
This is a bogus off-shore collection call!
This is not the first one my clients have experienced. I was fortunate to even speak with a real person. Typically, when I call the “collection agency’s” phone number they will disconnect the call once they know I am an attorney. When I call back, the number is mysteriously disconnected.
I googled the phone number and collectors like this one and found a Consumer Alert at http://www.pbkbank.com/consumer_alerts.htm.
Here is what the web site says:
“FinCEN Warns of Ongoing Financial Scams (03.25.11)
FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) recently sent out a reminder to the public to be on alert to ongoing financial scams that attempt to solicit funds from unsuspecting victims. They have received calls and reports of financial scams attempts conducted via the telephone. The caller represents themselves as an employee of FinCEN and ask for the victim by name, usually at the victim’s home telephone number. The caller will identify an outstanding debt; this debt may be actual or bogus. The call will provide the victim with account, Social Security or other similar number and demand that immediate payment be made. The caller’s knowledge of the victim’s name, telephone number, account description and personal information serves to legitimize the caller.
FinCen has become aware of another financial scam conducted via email and telephone in which a person claiming to be a representative of the U.S. Department of Treasury of FinCEN informs them that they have received a large Treasury Department grant. To obtain the grant, the victim is instructed to provide bank account information and make some type of initial payment or donation.
Recipients of these calls, letters, or emails should not respond to such messages, and should not send money or provide any personal or confidential information. Those who believe that they are or have been a victim of the financial scam, should report this information to local, State, or Federal law enforcement authorities.
FinCEN does not send unsolicited request and does not seek personal or financial information from members of the public. FinCEN does not have authority to freeze assets or block funds transfers. In addition, correspondence may purport to be from an overseas office of FinCEN. FinCEN does not have any offices outside of the US.”
Don’t tolerate this kind of abuse and criminal behavior. Call your state and local authorities and report the call. It’s a scam.