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INSIDE EDITION Investigates Telephone Terrorists

The frightening calls can come at any hour. Someone, usually with a foreign accent, says he's calling from a law firm, and that you're behind payment on a major debt.

INSIDE EDITION obtained calls from scam artists who said:

"Call me back as soon as possible."

"You will be charged the amount of $5,484.87 which will be levied on you."

And the callers sometimes say if you don't pay right now, you'll go to prison!

"You will be behind the bars for six months."

Kelly Harper from outside Atlanta got one of those calls earlier this year. The caller said she owed $350. Harper knew she didn't owe any such debt.

So she turned the tables on the scammer, who may have been calling from a boiler room operation somewhere in India. Here's what happened next.

Harper: "Tell me who you're filing charges with. What county?"

Caller: "Afghanistan county."

Harper: "What county?"

Caller: "Afghanistan."

"This is not legit," Harper told INSIDE EDITION.

The caller then made a pretty startling admission.

Caller: "I don't have time to talk to you because I do have many people like you who I'm going to scam, you know? This is not a law firm, this is a scam company, so it's better you don't waste my time."

Tampa attorney Billy Howard of Morgan and Morgan says he gets calls every week from people who pay the telephone terrorists out of pure fear, saying, "They're bullies in a cubicle."

INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero decided to call one of numbers to see what they'd say to her. Surprise! They said they knew all about her and that she owed them money.

Guerrero asked the scammer, "So I owe $612 from January 2010?"

The scammer also threatened to throw her in jail.

"If I don't pay this today you're going to send the sheriff to my house tomorrow. To arrest me?" continued Guerrero.

"That's right ma'am. We have given you extensions to pay this off, but you haven't paid it back," said the scammer.

But when she asked where the scam artist was located, he hung up.

Howard said, "We need to find these guys and put a stop to it."

If you are contacted by one of these telephone terrorists, make sure you ask them plenty of questions about the so-called debt.  The Better Business Bureau urges caution when dealing with them and has these tips for consumers who are contacted:

For more information, go to the following websites.

Federal Trade Commission rules on debt collection:
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpajump.shtm

State agency warnings:
http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2010_08/20100825.html

http://www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/press/news/2010/06/2/attorney_general_warns_consumers_about_fraudulent_collection_calls_likely_orig

http://800helpfla.com/newsletter/2008/092008.html

http://www.ksag.org/page/consumer-alert-attorney-general-warns-kansans-of-debt-collection-scam

Consumer law firm specializing in abusive debt collection practices:
http://www.forthepeople.com/collection_harassment.htm
 

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