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Aggressive Scammers Target Wyoming Co. Couple

Portageville, N.Y.-- About six months ago, Karen and Craig Lovejoy of Portageville, Wyoming County, started getting strange calls from Florida.

A heavily-accented man kept calling their cell phones saying that they are being sued for a loan they havent repaid, but the man was very vague on the details.

The way he was talking we didn't think he was legit, Karen said. The he said that [my husband] was going to jail for a loan and we were like, What? What loan? Then we kept listening to it and we were like, We didn't get no loan.

Sometimes the couple would get calls from two different Florida phone numbers four to five times a day. They would hang up on the man and then get a call right back.

The Lovejoys say they dont have an outstanding loan and they dont really know why they are getting the calls.

They suspect that the callers might have gotten their information when the Lovejoys filled out an online form for a quick loan. They never got the loan and now feel that it was a scam.

The couple says the calls are threatening. The caller says the police are going to come and arrest them and says Get ready for the legal trouble.

According to former New York State Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez, this is a common tactic.

This is outrageous, Rodriguez said. This is criminal in my view. They tell you that you owe money and in order for the police to not come and arrest you, you have to give up your credit information. Once you give you your credit card information or any financial information, you could become a victim of identity theft.

Rodriguez says that if anyone threatens to arrest you for an outstanding loanred flags should go up.

First of all, we do not have debtors jail in civil cases in New York or any state in our country. You're not going to jail if you owe a bill.

A quick search of the two phone numbers on Google shows that hundreds of people have gotten the same phone calls from the man with the same accent.

The Lovejoys say they are lucky they didnt fall for it. Although, they admit they almost did because they took the threat of arrest seriously.

Now they plan to change their phone numbers to avoid getting the calls any more.

Rodriguez says to avoid giving out private information online and to also keep in mind that scammers often target the elderly or people who are financially unstable.

If you are receiving threatening phone calls about money you dont owe, file a police report and see if the phone company could place a block and trace on the phone number.

I hope no one falls for it because they are doing it through scaring people, Karen said. I dont think thats right.

Rodriguez also points out that often times, these calls come from outside of the country even if the caller ID says otherwise.

Angela Hong, 13WHAM-TV
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