Federal authorities crackdown on debt collectors scam

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Burlington County residents are being warned to be wary of fake phone calls from people posing as IRS representatives. (WPVI)

Burlington County residents are being warned to be wary of fake phone calls from people posing as IRS representatives.

Evesham Township police say they've seen a spike in the fake calls in the past few days.

Wednesday morning, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney said these fake calls are sweeping the nation and they are cracking down.

One caller was told by a fake representative that, "You're going around getting loans, not paying them back. Ma'am, you're on the way to jail."

Feds say this type of call was vicious and it's illegal.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney, says "We arrested 7 people and shut down the business. Sometimes you have to bring the hammer of the criminal law to bear."

Criminal charges were filed against Georgia-based Williams Scott and Associates - alleged thieves posing as debt collectors and local law enforcement.

Authorities say they conned 6,000 people out of more than $4 million dollars with calls tricking victims into believing they'd committed a crime, like check fraud, then bullying them into paying up bogus debts or go to jail.

Experts are warning that there are still more scammers on the loose.

"We shut down one company today, but there are a lot of companies that do this and victimized not just 6,000 people but I think tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people all
over the country," said Bharara.

People should know the warning signs: Harassing calls, threats of jail time or arrest - BOTH red flags.

There are even ways to tell if the caller is a fake representative.

Christopher Koegel, Asst. Director of Financial Practices FTC, says, "A legitimate debt collector will not lie or deceive the consumer, try to abuse that consumer or call at inappropriate times or use other high pressure tactics."

Related Topics:
fraudIRSscamsn.j. news