RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you are getting suspicious calls claiming that you owe an outstanding debt, don't give up any personal information. It could be a scam designed to get your money. We investigated a recent complaint about a debt collector and uncovered a series of dead ends and outright lies.
You may have passed by this building along Cutshaw Avenue in Richmond and never thought much about it. It came to our attention when we got a phone call from Dan Mattson. He lives two thousand miles away in California.
He says he got a suspicious call from a Richmond number -- from someone claiming to be with the Judicial Support Bureau- inside that Cutshaw Avenue address. The caller claimed Mattson owed over $8,000 for a BMW lease.
"I was freaked out and scared on Wednesday and I went and took all my money out of my account. Not everything, I left five bucks in there," he said.
Mattson admits he once leased a BMW back in the late 90's. But he says what was even more frightening, the person calling from that Richmond number knew some personal information.
"That is the scary thing. He had an address I used to live at and the last four of my social," Mattson said.
Mattson called BMW. He was sure he didn't owe any outstanding debt.
We also checked with BMW. In a statement the company says, "After an extensive inquiry with various sectors of our company, we have no knowledge of any company or entity named "Judicial Support Bureau" that is charged or contracted to conduct any collections operations or procedures on behalf of the BMW Group or its subsidiaries; BMW of North America, LLC or BMW Financial Services, LLC. We are very concerned about any one or company that may be conducting business on our behalf that is not authorized legally with our permission. We will continue to investigate this matter, cooperate with the appropriate law enforcement officials and prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law to ensure that the integrity of our business practices are maintained and the trust of our customers is sustained."
"If they get an older person that just gives them the information and they get away with it, even it is a hundred bucks, it is just not right," said Mattson.
A quick Google search of the phone number in question and we found dozens of other people had similar complaints. Someone calling about an outstanding debt. Mattson did get the company's address. It was 3805 Cutshaw Avenue, Suite 333, Richmond, VA.
We decided to go to the offices of Judicial Support Bureau ourselves. A worker told us the building has been closed down since March because of a fire. That's right, the building is empty. The worker said he'd never heard of a Judicial Support Bureau.
Our search for answers continued and we asked the worker about what was once in the building.
"Good question. There was a lot different tenants in the building but everybody has relocated because they had a fire," the worker said.
Just to make sure, we went up to third floor, where the mystery company claimed to be and it was empty.
We caught up with one of the owners of the building. He told us his name was Mike. He says about 25 to 30 offices were once in building but never a Judicial Support Bureau.
"Not unless somebody set up an entity and didn't tell anybody," he said.
We checked, the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, and The state Corporation Commission, none of them had heard of The Judicial Support Bureau that claimed to be located in Richmond.
We also called that 804 number listed for the company. Sure enough, the person on the other end gave us the address to that empty building on Cutshaw Avenue. When pressed for more information, they hung up on us. Consumer Affairs says tracking down whose responsible may be next to impossible. The callers could be anywhere and are good at hiding their location. If you get a similar call don't give up any information. Hang up and report it to organizations like Consumer Affairs. It can help you determine if the call and debt are real.
We also contacted the Federal Trade Commission about the Judicial Support Bureau. It says any complaints are not public. We filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to see if it has received any complaints. We are still waiting on the report.
For more helpful information on what to do if you get a similar call and other helpful information, visit the links below.