Courts & Corrections

Scam targets Vermonters who filed for bankruptcy

The Attorney General’s Office is warning Vermonters of a scam in which fraudsters call someone who has filed for bankruptcy while pretending to be their lawyer.

The scam is one of several so-called “imposter” scams in which a caller pretends to be a trustworthy person. The imposter scammer’s goal is to get the victim to wire money as soon as possible, as with online dating scams.

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In the bankruptcy scam, fraudsters use “spoof” software for their caller identification system to deceive victims, according to a news release. The software makes it look like the phone call is coming from the person’s bankruptcy attorney so they can more credibly pretend to be their attorney.

The fraudster will either claim to be the person’s lawyer, partner of the lawyer or a member of the lawyer’s staff. The caller then tells the person to immediately wire money “to satisfy a debt that is supposedly outside of the bankruptcy proceeding.”

According to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, the scammers may be preying on public information that bankrupt Vermonters file in court. That information includes the names of lawyers representing them in bankruptcy court.

“The calls come late in the evening or during non-business hours to minimize consumers’ ability to verify the call by contacting their attorney,” the release warns. “Consumers who receive such a call should not wire funds and should contact their attorney as soon as possible.”

Vermonters who are contacted by these callers should also contact the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424. They can also email [email protected] or visit the website at www.uvm.edu/consumer.

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Erin Mansfield

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  • Bruce Dawning

    Why would people believe a stranger calls like this? When there’s a call like that, why don’t you just call your real lawyer’s number? These scammers have been around since years ago, and with so many tricks that they have. Actually, there are also so many warnings that have been issued about them, and even I can find almost everyday reports about phone scams at sites like http://whycall.me. We just need to be actively read those warnings.