Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters warned that scam artists are posing as government and law enforcement officials demanding that consumers pay money immediately.
In Hamilton County, a consumer recently reported that her debit card was charged nearly $400 in the scam.
“Scam artists often pretend to represent the government in order to make their ploys seem more convincing,” DeWine said. “In some cases, con artists make phony, threatening debt collection calls pretending to be BCI agents or other Attorney General representatives. We want to make sure Ohioans know that these calls are outright scams. Legitimate government offices will not threaten you demanding that you pay a debt.”
“The scammers are always thinking of new ways to scam unsuspecting people," Deters said. "Anyone receiving a telephone call requesting money or personal information should be very cautious and verify the call before complying. The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office would never call anyone demanding money.”
Since the beginning of June, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 20 reports of “imposter” scam calls, where callers pretend to represent the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or another attorney’s office. In most cases, consumers do not report losing money or providing personal information in response to the calls.
However, the scams can be persuasive and some consumers do lose money.
Earlier this week, a consumer received a call from someone who claimed to be “Lisa Rider” with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office. (No one by that name currently works at the Prosecutor’s Office.) “Lisa” told the consumer that she owed $386.80 as a partial payment for a debt that she owed and if she did not pay immediately the police would come to her house and arrest her. The consumer gave the caller her debit card information before becoming suspicious. When the consumer called the phone numbers that “Lisa” had provided, they all sounded as if they were answered by the same person.
Scammers may “spoof” or alter the number that appears on a consumer’s caller ID to make it appear to be a local call.
Consumers who receive calls demanding that they pay a debt should request written information about the debt. If the caller refuses to provide written information, it is most likely a scam.
Anyone who receives a call asking for personal or financial information should hang up and call a number known to be legitimate, such as the Attorney General's Help Center, 800-282-0515. Consumers also can report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.