TARGET 8: Columbia resident trapped in a disability scam
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Attorney General's Office receives hundreds of complaints from people being targeted by scams each year.
A disabled Columbia man spoke to KOMU 8 about the dozens of threatening emails and phone calls he was getting from random numbers demanding he pay his debts.
He asked we kept his identity anonymous for his protection.
He gave KOMU 8 copies of several emails with fake Social Security numbers and fake case numbers.
Emails laced with politely threatening language like the excerpt below...
"NOTE: KINDLY LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE WILLING TO RESOLVE THIS CASE SO THAT WE CAN OFFER YOU THE SETTLEMENT AMOUNT AND IF NOT THAN WE HAVE TO DOWNLOAD THIS CASE FORCEFULLY AGAINST YOU INTO THE COURT HOUSE."
Chief Counsel of Consumer Protection Joseph Bindbeutel said these types of scams are common.
Bindbeutel said, "This is a family of schemes that are particularly targeted, we believe, to elderly folks and recent Americans."
Bindbeutel explained you can usually tell its a scam by the nature of the phone call or email.
"You are going to receive information about that situation that's not a cold call demanding immediate payments threatening things like jail time or the police is going to come and get you."
He added that the best thing to do when you get a call or email you think might be fishy is to call that agency directly and cross reference. Usually that is when you find out it was a scam phone call.
Our anonymous source told KOMU 8, "Sometimes it's hard in the heat of the moment to know you are being scammed."
"I was on heavy medication at the time, and my judgment was affected," he said. "What I have learned today however, is not to be ashamed.
Phone call scams have grown increasingly common because of how difficult they are to track.
KOMU's Target 8 Investigative team tried calling back a few numbers our source gave us, but nobody answered.
Bindbeutel finished by saying, "The best practice is simply not to give out your important information over the phone when you don't know who's calling."