How One Man Helped Bring Down a Debt Collection Scam

Photo credit: raindog808, CC BY 2.0.

Yesterday, I got one of those scam calls where someone pretends to be the FBI and announces that they’re going to arrest you unless you give them money. (I’ve been picking up all of my random number calls lately because I’m waiting for the call that will tell me when my new sofa/coffee table/desk will be delivered.)

I haven’t gotten any scam calls where people try to collect on a debt that doesn’t exist, but that’s apparently another popular scam—and if you’ve got 10 minutes, Bloomberg has a fascinating longread about a man who got one scam call too many and decided to see if he could bring down the person running the scam:

Each night, after his wife went to sleep, he cracked open his laptop to comb lawsuits, unearth filings, and uproot the owners of the agencies calling him. When he got names, he’d phone them, often surprising them at home, and make clear that he wouldn’t go away until they’d revealed who supplied their debt portfolios. “Here’s the deal,” he’d say. “I don’t really care about you. There’s a million guys like you out there. You’ll never get your money back. You might as well get blood out of it. Tell me what I need to know to put these guys in jail.”

The most interesting part, by the way, isn’t the way he locates his targets. It’s the way he persuades them to give up their information—which does, in fact, lead him to the scam boss.

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