3 On Your Side

Phony debt collection companies duping victims

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Email to Gary Harper from DanielMarshall@Collector.Org (Source: 3TV) Email to Gary Harper from DanielMarshall@Collector.Org (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

If there's anyone who knows Internet scams, it's Ken Colburn, an Internet and technology expert.

"Some percentage of people are going to see this email and in their mind, they assume it's their debt and they just fall for it," he told 3 On Your Side as he was reviewing an email we brought to his attention.  "This is what we call the 'scam du jour.'  This is what they are doing today.  Tomorrow, they will be doing something else."

The email initially was sent to a 3 On Your Side viewer who became worried and forwarded it to us.

It's purportedly from a company called Financial Legal Services, and it even has a toll-free number.

But before calling it, 3 On Your Side replied to the scammer to inquire about that so-called debt. We started communicating with a guy by the name of Daniel Marshall with an email of DanielMarshall@Collector.org. 

He immediately replied back.

"I need you to make the full payment as soon as possible," he said, even providing a MoneyGram document for convenience.

"Yea, so the minute you respond to any of these fake emails, even to just inquire, you have basically started the process," Colburn explained. "They now know they have a live one."

Scammers spend countless hours behind computer screens sending out intimidating emails that look very official.

In this case, Daniel Marshall sent 3 On Your Side an authentic-looking document. The next attachment he sent even had the name "Gary Harper" printed on it.  The document said I was agreeing to a $428 settlement and that I would be transferring money.

But there are red flags everywhere.  First, the letter is full of grammatical errors.  For example, it states, "We apologies for any inconvenience." That should be "apologize."

And what about their website, www.collector.org?  Well, Colburn says there is no website.  

"Collector.org comes back to what is called a parked domain," he explained. "It's not a real website.  If this was a really a collection agency with real work they would have a site with real information and that 800 number would have appeared here on the site."

And what about that 800 number?  3 On Your Side called it, and spoke to someone claiming to be Daniel Marshall.  

"Do you like ripping people off and scaring people into paying money they don't owe," I asked the man, who had an overseas accent.  

"No, we don't do like that, sir," he replied.

The man claiming to be Daniel Marshall then disconnected the call, and that's about as far as the scam went.      

But Colburn says people will fall for it and send in money anyway.

Even if the scammers are exposed, Colburn says they won't disappear.  

"I'm very certain that if they see this news report and we have pointed out their scam website, they will close it down and their 800 number too," he said.

Checking out a website to find out more about the people behind it is very easy. Click here to read the story in which Colburn explains exactly how to do it.

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