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SCAM WATCH

Demanding repayment of nonexistent debts

Callers posing as debt collectors and others have been placing random phone calls, the Internet Crime Complaint Center says. Also, warnings go out over magazine subscriptions and SEC impostors.

February 27, 2012|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Telephone collection calls

Callers posing as law enforcement agents, lawyers and debt collectors have been placing random telephone calls and demanding that victims immediately repay nonexistent debts, the Internet Crime Complaint Center said in a recent bulletin.

The callers claim to be collecting debts for groups such as United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net or other firms, according to the center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

If the target hangs up, the callers often will call back, demanding credit or debit card numbers through which they can steal the victims' money, the bulletin said. Anyone who is contacted about a debt they do not owe should contact law enforcement or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.

Magazine subscriptions

The Better Business Bureau said it has received hundreds of complaints from people who subscribed to magazines through a firm called Publishers Billing Exchange.

The complaints allege that the company sent solicitations resembling bills to subscribers of national publications but failed to extend subscriptions or provide refunds, the BBB said.

The Better Business Bureau said consumers should be careful to verify invoices or other mailings that look like bills before paying them.

SEC impostors

The Securities and Exchange Commission has reissued a warning about people who place telephone calls claiming to be SEC employees and asking victims to make payments they said would result in huge profits.

The SEC said it does not endorse investment offers, assist in the purchase of securities or participate in money transfers. Anyone who receives such calls should report them to the SEC or FBI, the agency said.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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