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Bankruptcy filers targeted by scammers

Scammers who pretend to be calling from lawyers’ offices are victimizing people who have filed for bankruptcy, court officials say.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia warns that the perpetrators have gathered information from bankruptcy filings and then posed as attorneys or attorney staffers to coerce clients to wire money.

The scam has hit Virginia, according to a news release from the U.S. Courts.

The scammers call the clients and persuade them to immediately send money to satisfy a debt.

Some consumers have been threatened with arrest to get them to cooperate, according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

The money, of course, goes to the scammers, not to satisfy any debt.

“In some instances, the perpetrators are using personal information from public filings to identify consumers, assume the identity of their attorneys and sound more convincing by phone. These calls are typically placed during nonbusiness hours, making it difficult for clients to verify the call by getting in touch with their attorney to ask about it,” according to the NACBA.

Callers also have used software that “spoofs” the caller ID system so the call appears to be originating from the consumer’s bankruptcy attorney, according to the Vermont attorney general’s office.

A warning prepared by Eastern District bankruptcy clerk William C. Redden has been posted on the websites of both the Eastern and Western District Bankruptcy Courts.

Redden said he hopes the word gets out so that attorneys can warn their clients.

“I would make that part of the opening discussion,” he said in an interview.

Despite the statement from the U.S. Courts that the scammers have struck in Virginia, Redden said he was not aware of any incident in this state.

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