COLUMBUS -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine cautioned residents Monday to beware scammers claiming to represent his office and demanding immediate payments for money their targets don't actually owe.
DeWine said his office has received about a dozen such complaints over the past two months, with perpetrators threatening jail time and immediate police intervention absent hard-to-trace cash transfers.
Sometimes, the calls appear to come from area codes within the state when they're really from outside the country. Often, the callers refuse to outline any alleged debt or payday loan issues but demand pre-paid money cards.
While the attorney general's office is authorized to collect outstanding debt owed to state agencies, "I can assure you we are not calling people and threatening them…," DeWine said. "We don't threaten, we don't harangue, nor do we try to intimidate."
He added, "Lies are the stock and trade of scammers, and deceit is their standard operating procedure. That's why today we're warning Ohio consumers to watch out for con artists who pretend to be from the Ohio attorney general's office."
DeWine offered the warning Monday as part of a press conference kicking off National Consumer Protection Week, which seeks to draw attention to consumer ripoffs.
The attorney general's office's consumer protection section fielded more than 30,000 complaints last year from consumers who believed they had been scammed. Those complaints ranged from issues with used cars to shoddy roof contractors.
"We've always had con artists, we've always had crooks, we've always had bad people," DeWine said. "... Today', they've got the Internet. They've got telemarketing. They've got phoning. They've got all kinds of tools that they never had before. "
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.