Ocala, Florida — Residents are warned about a nationwide phone scam now in Marion County, after a 74-year-old man was harassed multiple times yesterday.
The caller was threatening to arrest the man’s son-in-law for “illegally possessing rental property” if money was not paid. The man said he immediately knew it was a scam and called his son-in-law to tell him what had happened. While he was on the phone, the scammer called two more times. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office was immediately notified.
Oscar & Gamble, or also known as Oscar & Gamble Law Firm, is calling residents from phone number 888-394-0265 and threatening arrest if money is not paid.
The scam goes something like this:
Someone calls you, or a relative, and says he or she is with a government agency, law firm, or sheriff’s office and threatens that you will be sued or arrested if you do not pay a supposed debt or fine.
Many times the caller will state a warrant for you or a relative has already been issued and you must pay the fine over the phone with a credit card in order to have the warrant canceled.
The caller might claim you or a loved one is in possession of stolen property, an illegal rental home, or illegal downloads, and demand money be paid via Western Union, Money Gram, or credit card. The caller might also claim your loved one has already been arrested and demand bail money for their release.
The fraudsters might also call pretending to be with the IRS. With the IRS scam, the caller might claim a person would be arrested if back-taxes were not paid immediately. If this happens, again, hang up and notify authorities. It might also be a good idea to notify the IRS. Unless of course you are hiding from the IRS.
These types of scammers can be very convincing, and often times they prey on the elderly.
How the scammers get family information
Many companies sell customer information, including birthdates and references that were provided to the merchant if applicable. Scammers will buy the information and do research on individuals included on the list. Con artists sometimes seek out the elderly and their known family members.
Things to remember
Government agencies or legitimate law firms will not:
Cancel arrest warrants over the phone
Call and request a fine be paid over the phone
Threaten arrest if a debt is not paid
Threaten criminal charges if a debt is not paid
Ask you for your Social Security number
Request bail money for a family member
Residents, you cannot be arrested for an unpaid debt.
If a law firm threatens you with arrest or with violence for a legitimate unpaid debt, report them immediately. If you feel you are being scammed, report them immediately.
Some law firms, instead of telling people they are debt collectors, emphasize words like “federal” and “U.S.” in their threats, or have it as part of their company name. According to the Federal Trade Commission, companies cannot state or even imply they are with federal or state officers.
Repo companies are notorious for using this tactic. Often times, repo personnel will pull out badges and claim they are special investigators or an agent. If this happens, call FTC and local law enforcement immediately. While repo companies are required by law to disclose a repo to a local law enforcement agency, repo laws must still be followed. Also, in Florida, repo companies cannot force their way onto gated property, threaten violence, or harass you at your place of employment. If this occurs, report them immediately. Law enforcement officers are required to uphold the law, not help with the collection of a debt.
What’s more, many companies fail to give people information they are legally entitled to, or to investigate the legitimacy of debts, even when they were told the consumers did not owe them.
What to do
If you feel you have been a victim, or were almost the victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement agency. While law enforcement may not be able to make an arrest, the report will be on file. If the scammers are ever identified, these reports can be used either by law enforcement or by the FTC at a later time.
Here is the FTC complaint form.