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Consumer Warning: A Scam Targeting Bankruptcy Filers

Watch out for phone calls seemingly from somebody you think you should trust with reliable sounding information, requesting fast money.


You Wouldn’t Be Fooled by This

If you get an email written in imperfect English from somebody saying she needs your help to move a huge amount of money out of her African country, and that you’ll get a healthy percentage of that amount if you just provide your bank account information, you probably know better than to respond to that email.

Here’s a part of an email  which is an example of these advance-fee scams, in which you’re invited to send money to a stranger on the promise of some fast money for you:

Dear Beloved Friend,

I know this message will come to you as surprised but permit me of my desire to go into a business relationship with you.

…  my late father came to Cotonou Benin republic with the sum of US$4.2M which he deposited in a Bank her in Cotonou Benin Republic West Africa for safe keeping.

I am here seeking for an avenue to transfer the fund to you in only you’re reliable and trustworthy person to investment the fund. I am here in Benin Republic because of the death of my parents and I want you to help me transfer the fund into your bank account for investment purpose.

Please I will offer you 20% of the total sum of US$4.2M for your assistance. Please I wish to transfer the fund urgently without delay into your account and also to relocate to your country due to the poor condition in Benin, as to enable me to continue my education as I was a medical student before the sudden death of my parent’s. Your immediate response would be appreciated.

But Imagine If…

If instead the following happened you might more likely be fooled:

  • You get a phone call on your cell phone with your screen showing it’s from your attorney’s office, or from the IRS
  • The person on the phone gives you information about one of your real creditors, saying you have to send your attorney or the IRS a familiar sounding amount to deal with that creditor quickly
  • The call comes at a time or day that you can’t quickly call back your attorney’s office or the IRS to verify the call, and you’re told you’re at risk of being arrested if you don’t take care of it immediately
  • The person asks for information you’ve already provided your attorney’s office in the form of your bank account, so that you don’t think much of just providing it again.

This is the kind of scam that has successfully fooled recent bankruptcy filers. In Vermont recently a 70-year old woman lost $700 and another woman lost $686.

This scam prompted the Vermont Attorney General to send out a press release titled: Attorney General Warns Of Scams Targeting Bankruptcy Filers, which included the following:

The perpetrators of this scam use software to “spoof” the Caller ID system so that the call appears to be originating from the phone line of the consumer’s bankruptcy attorney. Consumers are then instructed to immediately wire money to satisfy a debt that is supposedly outside of the bankruptcy proceeding.

The Attorney General’s Office is reminding all consumers to be wary of any calls they did not initiate that demand or solicit funds for any purpose. Currently active scams include calls from scammers posing as agents of the IRS, debt collectors for payday loans, family or friends in need of emergency assistance, and technical support for Windows computers.

Consumers should never give out personal or account information to an unverified source.

To Repeat…

We all know that last sentence is very sensible. The challenge is not being taken advantage of in this more sophisticated way by somebody sounding authoritative and reliable, just when you’re feeling vulnerable.

If you or a family member gets this kind of call, hang up and reach your bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Do NOT give out any personal or financial account information to the caller.


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