Maybe these scammers should have looked me up before they tried to pull a fast one

Note to any debt-collection scammers reading this: Choose your targets carefully. Very carefully.

If you don’t, you might end up sending a bogus notice to a consumer advocate. And he might write something about it.

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Rafael Everett apparently didn’t do his research when he sent me a series of “legal” notices by email. That’s allowed, according to the Federal Trade Commission

You have the wrong guy

But they looked suspicious. For starters, they had the wrong guy.

Dear: Elliott Long
2757 Birch Street, LAREDO, TX, 78040
SSN: [redacted]
DOB: 8/24/1980

Driver’s License#: [redacted]
Drivers State: TX
Reference#: CB51441
Plaintiff: Quick Payday

Account id: 00/100/3636

This letter is a prior notification to you regarding your account with Quick Payday before your file gets registered inside the courthouse with the legal procedures on your name.

This notice will certify that a petition has been entered against you. The above name entity individual respectfully requests that you immediately settle this account. This consideration includes the penalty fees, judge fees; courthouse fees, etc. It may put you in a legal mess.

Since you have not made the payment, we would be forced to commence lawsuit without further delay followed by all the legal interrogatories and consequences; this could further jeopardize your credit ratings, and your social will be hampered. The company holds the prima facie regarding your case.

The longer you go without paying your payday loan, the more you will owe the lender. Because money lender often charges hefty interest rates (up to 600% annually) and fees for nonpayment. Some states have rules related to how much interest a payday lender can charge, however, other states, such as Texas; allow payday lenders to charge unlimited interest and fees for nonpayment.

Besides, non-repayment of the loan will be reported to the three major credit bureaus causing severe damage to your credit score, jeopardizing your credibility in future. Defaulting on loan obligations may result in not being able, or being less able, to borrowing again in the future from other credit institutions, the collection action will stay on your credit report for seven years.

Also, to inform you that this loan was provided to you against your paychecks. My claimant that’s your Quick Payday has all the rights and is authorized to Email/Fax the official copy of the court subpoena to your human resources or the legal representative of your firm. Wherein, they have to appear in the court while the case is on which would be resulting in termination from the full-time employment and to make sure they take strict actions against you. Consequently, your salary/wages will be garnished.

This is the last warning before taking further actions on the judgment against you. Failure to this notice will require us to utilize one of the enforcement as mentioned above options against you. No further notice will be given before further enforcement actions on this judgment.

If you have any issues regarding this matter reply us back and we will contact you as soon as possible to help you to get out of this issue.

Sincerely,

Rafael Everett
Legislation Department
Esper Law Firm

My name isn’t Elliott Long. I wish I was born in 1980. That would make me 37! And I’ve never had a permanent residence in Texas.

So I ignored it.

Debt-collection scammers don’t give up

But Rafael was persistent. A few days later, he followed up with this email:

This legal proceeding is issued on your Docket# with one of Quick Payday Company, concerning your account with Quick Payday Inc., which you took out from Quick Payday and failed to repay them back. It is to notify you that after making several calls on your phone number they were unable to get a hold of you. So now as on today’s date, accounts department of Quick Payday has decided to mark this case as a flat refusal and has authorized us to press charges against you in court.

Plaintiff Quick Payday addresses the defendant to pay the sum of one thousand two hundred fifty which the plaintiff claims to be in respect of together with interest due thereon from the said date of repayment in full at such rate as the court may deem just. The whole as appears by Deed of Assignment in the plaintiff’s favor and to pay the cost of the action.

Please note that commercial enterprises, banks, and other financial institutions, which in any manner, are involved in the lending of money or the granting of credit, have a legitimate interest in accessing the database. The preceding also applies to debt-collection agencies. Consequently, any of the information as mentioned earlier may be passed onto such parties and may, in the process, affect your credit rating.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that if judgment and an order for repayment in full are obtained and remain unpaid, the following enforcement options are available and may be considered by our client.

1. Warrant of executions by bailiffs against goods owned.

2. Application for attachment of earnings orders with your present or future employer.

3. Request for a charging order on any property you may own or are purchasing under a mortgage. (Where the balance outstanding is of a sufficient level.)

In short, you will end by paying $ 8,483.67 either by selling any of your assets or properties, along with you the other references that you used while making the transaction will also have to face the consequences.

We would emphasize that should judgment be entered against you this may affect any future credit application you may make elsewhere. We would also draw attention that all legal costs incurred in this situation are usually payable by the debtor.

The balance includes an administration cost of $1,310.78 which has been added to offset (some of) the expenses incurred by our client.

As we put your SSN into the National Checking Database System, we found that you have never been charged for any fraud activity hence I have personally evaluated your file, and with my experience, there is nothing here to suggest that this was done with any ill intent or malice.

Therefore, the nature of this notice is to determine whether there is a willingness on your part to resolve the matter voluntarily or if this is a flat refusal and a breach of verbal or written contract.

Debt-collection scammers can be aggressive

I skimmed the notice and it looked legit enough to make me send what I thought was a helpful reply:

Me: This is not me. You have the wrong person.

That was met with an even more aggressive response:

Rafael: Quick Payday is having 17 valid proof and three scientific proofs stating that you applied for it online and money was transferred to your bank account which has been verified by Bureau of cybercrime investigation.

Hmm, “is having.” Sounds like Rafael doesn’t have a basic command of English.

Me: Would you be so kind as to share the evidence with me? I’d like to review it. Thank you.

Rafael: The company has already sent nine reminders in your email address and attempted to send you the documents by US registered post at you mailing address, but nobody was there to either accept the documentations or to sign the papers. And at this point of time the case is under sub judicial act under chapter 63 C so it should not be through the US postal services, you haven’t received the documents, but the company has done its job.

Furthermore, after getting the funds, you were untraceable, due to your repeated negligence, we cannot do the same procedure once again, but surely, we can send you a legal notice through your attorney. Do you have your lawyer’s number or fax number; we can send them all papers along with court summons?

At this point, I just wanted to stop getting Rafael’s emails. So I thought I should be clear but firm.

I’m not that Elliott

Me: I’m truly sorry for your trouble in collecting this debt. The person you’re trying to reach appears to have used my email address. I do not know anyone named Elliott Long. The date of birth, address, and other information you have does not match mine. You have the wrong person.

Rafael: Kindly send us your Photo ID to verify you.

Well, that set off all kinds of alarms. Asking for an ID to “verify” you can potentially give a scammer your actual coordinates, allowing them to target your further. Not gonna happen.

Then I looked up the Esper Law Firm and discovered that I hadn’t been the only one targeted by Rafael.

I knew Rafael had the wrong guy. But was he a debt-collection scammer?

Before I had an answer, he emailed again.

Rafael: Kindly let us have you clear intention in this case so that we can put a remark on it and start the legal actions in your name. If your Plaintiff gets a court order against you, your Plaintiff has many other options to make you pay.

Debt-collection scammers don’t take “no” for an answer

I didn’t respond. He was not deterred.

Rafael: There is a lawsuit on your name, and your name is in a defaulter list.

If you want me to put this case file on hold then I want your prompt attempt, we are not going to ask you every time for this, you can simply let me go ahead and start the legal actions on you and your references.

A lawsuit on my name? Come on

Finally, on Jan. 8, I received the following notice from Rafael:

Due to your less cooperation, we are unable to work with you any further.

By today’s end of the day I’ll submit my closure report on your habitual offense, and by Jan. 10th, we will do all the required actions.

A copy of all legal paper works along with an arrest warrant will be sent to your local sheriff’s office in coming hours.

Sometimes debt-collection scammers really pick the wrong guy

Do I really have to connect the dots on this one? Clearly, Rafael is not who he says he is. But I also have a little advice for the debt-collection scammers out there. At least, could you Google your targets before you send them threatening emails?

Because you just picked the wrong guy to scam.

Do we need tougher laws to protect us from debt-collection scams?

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38 thoughts on “Maybe these scammers should have looked me up before they tried to pull a fast one

  1. I think we need better enforcement of existing laws. That letter is super-obviously a total scam, and already violates a very large pile of laws already on the books. More laws won’t fix the issue; not a bit. I mean, what could you possibly add to the current laws that would deter would-be crooks more than the current ones?

    (Okay, that correspondence should be 1st Degree Felony Abuse of the English Language, but more than a few politicians might get ensnared by such a law!)

    I might have played along for a little while longer just to see what the scam was; I’d just be curious if he wanted you to wire money for your “debt”, or if he was going to go for gift cards instead. (Certainly asking for gift cards quickly weeds out all but the most gullible; those are the ideal target market of any scammer since they ask the fewest questions.)

    1. There’s a whole forum of people dedicated to similar tricks; 419eater. The very best of them send scammers on “Safaris” totaling thousands of miles and hundreds of $$ in expenses.

      1. LOL I used to belong to the 419Eater forum, and did scam-baiting. It was fun for a while. I actually convinced a couple of scammers from South Africa that was heading to Africa carrying a gym bag filled with $10,000 cash that I was going to hand them to pay the “fees” for my “consignment” worth $10 million. And I managed to get them to travel all over southern Africa for days before it dawned on them that I wasn’t real.

        I told them I would meet up with them in Botswana, so they took a bus up there. Various made-up calamities happened to my baiting character resulting in her having to travel around to various places across southern Africa, so these guys ended up taking planes, trains and even renting a car to keep following me so they could collect their gym bag full of money. Eventually my character ended up in Victoria, Zimbabwe…but at that point they realized they’d been had, and headed back to Johannesburg. But not until they’d blown literally thousands of dollars on travel across multiple countries chasing me down.

        That was years ago, but I gotta say it was fun. And knowing that I cost these scumbags lots of money, and probably got them in huge trouble with their Oga (scammer gang leader) added to it. These guys had been scamming vulnerable people for years, and had well-known histories in the scammer world.

        I don’t have time for that anymore – that was during a period of time when I was working freelance and had more free time. Wish I could still do it, I was quite good at it!

    2. OMG that was hilarious! It was a long read, but I enjoyed it. I wish I had that much time, creativity and techspertise to pull off something like that!

  2. As someone who is a landlord, I have been on the other side of that argument on several occasions. Trying to collect for damages to your property from a tenant is next to impossible. Yes, you can get a judgement in small claims court — good luck collecting on it.

    1. Except there is no argument here. The “debt” the whole string of notes is about does not exist. It’s a complete scam from beginning to end. A total fabrication. The threats are empty, and the scheme illegal in a gigantic pile of ways.

      1. It probably did exist, as one fuzzy page in a pile of expired debt that the scammer bought as a “package” fromthe original owners. Since Elliott Long either OD’ed or remarried years ago, the current holder pursues everyone with a vaguely similar name in hopes of scamming someone.

        1. No, it didn’t exist. This is a well-worn script used by Nigerian scammers. I’ve seen it on scam-baiting sites.

          They send them out to lists of email addresses that contain anything that looks like a name. They will take that name and insert it into the email, hoping to snag your attention. For email addresses like Christopher’s, even if all they have is one part of the name, they’ll just make up the rest. But there are plenty of people who use their full name in their email addresses (e.g. [email protected]). In those cases they will use the person’s full name, which can be even more effective because it can scare the person into believing they really are going to get sued.

          That’s the part that so many people seem to not grasp: there IS no debt. There’s no debt collector. There’s no Elliott Long. There’s some criminal scumbag sitting in front of a computer sending these emails out by the thousands, culling email addresses from long lists, hoping one out of thousands will bite. And sadly, they do. People still respond to the Nigerian prince and long-lost-relative scam, believe it or not! If nobody ever made money off them, they wouldn’t still be happening.

          I mentioned in another article in here about a recent scam that I did volunteer work for a scam victim organization for a while. That’s how I learned so much about scams. I know whereof I speak. 🙂

          1. I hope you’re right, and it is statistically probable that in this case they are Nigerian emails that LW can just consign to the junk folder without a second thought. But if it is a Stateside law firm sending these out, they can do dirty tricks like getting some judge in a back-country jurisdiction to write a garnishment order that banks in your town are required to honor.

            I have a relative who found out about this variant of the scam when his SSI disability payment was unexpectedly seized from his checking account as soon as it was deposited, and there was nothing he could do about it. Furthermore, an action like this “revives” an expired debt, in the same way as a voluntary payment on it does, which means that the victim has to wait out another statute-of-limitations period before the debt goes dormant again.

          2. I’m sure that type of scam exists, and that’s a terrible thing.

            But for this specific set of emails, this is a common scam script that has been traded among scammers for a while now. It’s popped up in several scam baiting forums. These are not law firms. The law firm mentioned is real, but not involved at all. The names of the “lawyers” are phony (I’ve seen several different lawyer names used in this particular script from that particular company, including Shawn Dassie, Bradley Jackson, Joshua Oatman, Dave Brunswick, Kevin Robinson…and on and on.)

            This particular email suddenly saw new life over the past few months. You can find hundreds of complaints about it in Ripoff Reports dot com, most of them starting up late last year. But I’ve seen variants of this same email many times over the years.

            What happened to your relative is an entirely different kind of scam – one that goes far beyond just annoying emails that you can ignore and delete. Yours sounds like law enforcement should be able to get involved, because it’s here in this country, and there’s actual banks, lawyers and judges involved. Sorry to hear he went through that.

    2. As Sir Wired correctly pointed out, there WAS no debt. The guy named Elliott Long doesn’t exist. The address isn’t even a valid address. There is no debt collector.

      It’s some guy probably sitting in Lagos, Nigeria, sending these emails out in droves, hoping some poor fool will bite.

      What does he hope to get? Well, if Chris had sent him his photo ID, you can be sure his photo and identity would have turned up in hundreds of other scams, in order to make them more realistic. They need real photo IDs to fool their victims.

      Depending on how much personal information the target will give them, they may also try to:

      Make charges on your credit cards
      Open new credit card or checking accounts
      Write fraudulent checks
      Take out loans in your name

      And the list goes on and on.

      But people get scared, and will do anything they can to avoid the legal quagmire they are afraid they will find themselves in if they do nothing. But doing nothing is the right thing to do.

  3. What debt collector in the world, legitimate or not, sends notices by email? What court in the world would allow any kind of legal notice to be sent by email? This is one lazy scammer. Most people would send his email straight to the spam folder. C’mon buddy, you’re going to have to try better than that!

    Also, while I voted Yes in the poll, I don’t think tougher laws will have any impact on phony debt collectors.

    1. The grammar errors and obvious scamminess is intentional; it ensures that only people unlikely to ask questions will respond.

  4. I voted for better laws, but agree that better enforcement of existing laws would be the best strategy. As to these, and most of the scams we all receive via email–they rely on people being lazy. We have gotten to the point of forgiving numerous typos and poor grammar as we navigate social media postings made on phones, where typing is challenging and auto-correct is not your friend. As a consequence, it can be all too easy to start reading a scam email and be equally forgiving. When I was in elementary and middle school (when the rocks and stones were soft) we had classes in home economics whose primary content was cooking and sewing. When friends of mine had children in middle school somewhat later, I saw those home economics classes had expanded to include basics such as maintaining bank accounts and budgeting. Perhaps it’s time for such classes to be expanded again, to include basic consumer education against fraud. Teach them several times using grade-appropriate language. Basic logic and critical thinking should likewise be taught several times over the course of k-12 education. We’ll never stop people who want to perpetrate scams, so we’d best be vigilant in teaching people how to not be taken in by them.

  5. Better educated consumers are the answer. I had a debt collector come after me for $8000. He actually filed a suit against me.I knew about FDCA and FDCRA. Doing research, found $16000 in statutory violations committed by his scammy practice.

    I brought this to the attention of an attorney. This attorney did not take my case, but did help me (pro-bono) write up the legal documents I needed to countersue (he was unfamiliar with federal law on collections, but saw I was well-versed, and helped me out ‘on the down low’ to see what would happen).

    Once the collection agency saw I filed a countersuit, the head of this law firm called me THREE DAYS BEFORE TRIAL begging me to drop the whole thing. If I were in better health, I would have refused and took his butt for what federal law said I was owed. He dropped his suit, and I my counter, but I still laugh at the fact that this attorney — who runs a collection agency in two states and has a team of 200 lawyers working underneath him — called me personally and groveled, begging me to drop the case.

    (NOTE: Don’t mess with a disabled person with a limited income and all day, every day, to do his own legal research.)

    1. This is good information, and I’m really happy you stood up for yourself and knocked them down. 🙂

      But just for clarity, this article is not about an actual debt collector. This email was a standard script that comes from Nigerian scammers. I’ve seen it all over the place. They use different law office names…often real law offices, but the letters are fake.

      They will make up names that sound similar to the name of the target. They use fake addresses and SSNs.

      The sole point is to get the target to bite and give them something, anything – photo ID, financial information, or any other personal information that the victim will send in hopes it will convince the “debt collectors” that they’ve got the wrong guy. They KNOW they’ve got the “wrong guy” because the “right guy” doesn’t exist. They just want anything they can get out of you, and the more you respond, the more they will push for stuff.

      I recall one lady even wired them money for a supposed “debt collection protection service” that the scammers told her would prevent her from being targeted for incorrect debt collections in the future. That’s what these scammers will do – once they establish contact with you, they will take it as far as they can go.

      1. The D. Michael Dendy Law Firm, with offices in Texas and Louisiana! (And fake, unregistered collection offices under pseudonyms in Colorado, at least, as I found in my research and as prohibited by federal law).

  6. This guy will have been based in an Indian ‘boiler room’… very difficult for law enforcement to crack down on

    1. Or Nigeria. Or Ghana, or Ivory Coast. These are all hotbeds of internet scam activities. And no, there’s nothing that will be done. The best thing we can do is educate ourselves, and then ignore/delete.

  7. I can’t believe that there are five people in here who support this scam!

    In each state, consumer debt has a statute of limitations, or expiration date, after which you can no longer sue the debtor to collect it. You can still contact the debtor to ask for payment, but he is no longer under any legal obligation to pay. When debt ages past this point, most creditors just sell it for pennies on the dollar.

    This is where the scammers of the kind that hit you come in. There are rogue law firms, like Winn Law in Los Angeles, that make a specialty of buying expired debt and then using strongarm methods to collect it. They make bank on the average consumer not knowing their rights.

    It should be illegal to sell expired consumer debt. But because that would fix the whole problem, the legal profession will not allow that to happen.

    1. Trust me, they know. They are named in several complaints about this scam email. But there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. The emails are untraceable. They are sent out in droves by scammers from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, India, and other places that have large communities of scammers (London, Amsterdam).

      Replying to them is never a good idea, at least not from your primary email address. Once you reply, they know there’s a live person at the end of that email address. And your email address will now be on a list of potential victims, and will be traded and sold among all kinds of scammers.

  8. “Legislation Department” for debt collection? I wonder if his cousin is the “IRS agent” that said that the police were heading to my door to arrest me for some unpaid taxes. ….

  9. Great story. Excellent exchange. I have not been harassed too much by email but I get phone calls from the “IRS” regularly asking me to purchase gift cards. These people never learn.

  10. I noticed his clear reluctance to send anything via USPS. While his writing isn’t very good, he at least seems to want to avoid Federal involvement via mail fraud.

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