The Texas Attorney General's office reports that a new scam involving people pretending to be investigators with the office has victimized at least 200 people, each who recently applied online for a small loan.
The scammers are calling payday loan applicants and, under the guise of being official AG investigators, demand money with threats to issues arrest warrants.
"More than likely what happened was their information was sold somehow to somebody," said Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau.
For many people, the threat of jail time is enough to convince them to send money to complete strangers, Russo said. The scammers ask the people they call to load a prepaid debit card with cash and use it to pay off the loan.
So far, victims have sent several thousand dollars to the scam operation, according to the AG's office. An exact total was not available.
Recently, in a similar case, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum warned consumers about bogus collection emails that appear to come from her office. Those emails claim recipients are delinquent on payday loans and that a payment must be made to avoid legal ramifications. Consumers are asked to click a link, open an attachment or reply. The emails include an Oregon Department of Justice seal and references to state and federal consumer protection laws.