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Protecting yourself

Call from fake Accufile ‘Amy O’Neil’ is a ‘refund and recovery’ scam

Susan Ladika

I can tell you from personal experience: These phone fraudsters are good.

I’d just started writing a new article for CreditCards.com on tax scams and fraud when my phone rang.

As a rule, I don’t answer my phone unless I recognize the name or number on caller ID. I live in Florida, so when caller ID showed the call was from Miami, I wondered whether one of my friends from South Florida was on the phone.

If it’s someone I know, I’ll grab the phone as they start to leave a message.

Instead I heard this when the answering machine picked up:

“Hello, this is Amy O’Neil with the private servicing division of Accufile. I am calling in regards to a formal complaint that requires your immediate attention. I have documents that are scheduled to be delivered to your residence or place of employment. We will only make two attempts to deliver these documents. Please have valid identification to ensure the proper delivery of the documentation. If you or your attorney has any questions regarding this matter, you can contact our client directly at 800-340-5219. Again, that’s 800-340-5219.”

I admit, my heart skipped a beat when I heard the words “formal complaint” and “attorney,” and I started to rack my brain, trying to figure out what the complaint might be regarding.

Then I searched the Web for Accufile. There’s a legitimate company called AccuFile involved with libraries and research, so that made no sense. Then I searched the number that came up on caller ID — 786-522-1527 — as well as the 1-800 callback number.

I quickly found there were plenty of complaints about dear ol’ Amy O’Neil and her friends at Accufile. (Look her up in a search engine: Whether you spell it as Amy O’Neill or Amy O’Neal, they’re the same fraud.)

Many people received the same call I did, implying they were facing legal action. Others were told the caller was from T&H Financial, which was trying to collect a years-old debt. Some were told the sheriff’s office was heading their way to arrest them. In some cases the caller used the person’s name, or had their Social Security number or other personal information.

The calls came from various phone numbers and had various callback numbers.

On one forum, a woman last year reported the company claimed it was trying to collect on a Sprint bill from 2003. They told her if she didn’t pay up she’d owe $2,500 in court costs, but if she paid immediately it would cost $250.

I spoke to John Breyault, a vice president at the National Consumers League (NCL). NCL runs the website Fraud.org, which fields fraud and scam complaints. Breyault says Accufile and Amy seem to be running a “refund and recovery” scam.

“The predominant version of the refund and recovery scams involved a fraudster contacting consumers claiming to be collecting unpaid debts. If consumers questioned the debt, they reported frequently being threatened with jail time, legal action, or other consequences,” says a recently released report from Fraud.org.

Those kinds of scams were the fastest-growing type of telemarketing scam the past two years, according to Fraud.org. They represented 10 percent of the more than 10,000 complaints filed at Fraud.org last year.

And the phone is fraudsters’ favorite way to make contact. More than 40 percent of the complaints filed at Fraud.org involved phone fraud.

Refund and recovery scams are aimed at getting cash out of you. “It’s all an effort to try to get you to pay now without doing your due diligence,” Breyault says.

Most scammers will try to get you to send money via wire transfer or a prepaid card.

If someone says you owe them money, Breyaul recommends you tell them to put the request in writing. Never send immediate payment.

In most cases your best bet is to ignore the calls and report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“If you ever respond to the call and call back, they know they’ve got a live one on the line,” Breyault says. They’ll continue to call you or sell your information to their buddies in the cybercriminal world.

“If you do pay, chances are they’re going to find another reason you owe money,” and hit you up again and again, he says.

I don’t want to be on the fraudsters’ short list of phone numbers to call, so I’ve come up with ways to make sure I’m not a phone scam victim.

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  • It can’t be just Florida where this is occurring, but I get at least a couple of phone calls each month on similar situations from existing clients. Although some may be ignored, I advise consumers to request proof of the alleged debt in writing before evaluating and resolving the claim.

  • Tom Moore

    Thanks for the article and heads-up. I just received this call from “Amy” and my heart, too, skipped a beat. Wish that law enforcement could find these thieves and go in with guns-a-blazing!Nothing but evil.

  • S Baker

    The ubiquitous Ms. O’Neil just left the same message on my wife’s cellphone voicemail. Thankfully, when I Googled the voicemail details, your column came up near the top of the search results.
    To the best of your knowledge, is anyone working to shut these people down?

  • james west

    on march 23rd I also received this same voice mail from Amy Oneil stating the same spill you guys said here.

  • Wednesday Lee Friday

    Thanks so much for this. I was worried there for a second.

  • Pete B

    I have received this same call from dear old “Amy” several times this year, on my cell phone. I have always just hung up as soon as she starts her con. But, I am getting tire of the calls.

  • dee

    yes I just had a call today fom a Barbara Johnson that said exactly those words. I was realy worried and couldn’t think who was filing a complaint on me. I’m in Washington state, I am not sure if they are coming to my home or work but I don’t like the sound of this.

  • tg210

    I just received a call from this place and it totally freaked me out. Thank you so much for putting this information out there.

  • Rose

    Thank you for letting us know! I just received this same call from a Barbara Johnson leaving the same voicemail.

  • Terri

    I’m also getting these phone calls in Alaska, although the caller never identifies herself in the message and never says who she works for. She also does not say who the message is for, a real red flag. A legitimate company would make sure they have the correct phone number by saying who they are trying to reach.

  • Paul Cromer

    received the exact phone call today in South Carolina. So glad I read this forum!

  • Trisha KEnney

    I got the same call from “Amy O’Neil” twice, on my home and cell from a number in Florida,813-321-5654. Makes me wonder where they got my phone numbers from. Thanks for the article and the heads up before I panicked.

  • Mark

    Got this call today too. A scam was the first thing that came to mind as my collection issues are still a few weeks away 😉

  • David

    Thanks so much for the post!

  • Barbara Johnson

    Thanks for the post! I just received a call from Barbara Johnson with the same message from this number: 512-792:4390, and asked to call back to this number: 855-767-3702.

  • STACY

    I just received the same call on my cell phone and home. I return the call and ask if i could record the conversation she said no so i hung up the phone.

  • Feed Up

    Thanks for posting! Very helpful info:)
    I received the same voicemail today stating the exact same stuff you listed in the post advising me to call 800-340-5219.How do they get phone numbers? Isn’t there some way to stop these types of calls?

  • Estefani

    Received a called today@ 6:44 pm from a BARBARA JOHNSON (512)792- 4390, pretty much stating what all the above comments mention. She did leave a call back number (855)767-3702 and a little intimidating message. Googled her named and this website popped up along with other complaints regarding this issue.

  • GUADALUPE

    I JUST RECEIVED THIS WE SHOULD STOP THEM…

  • shacura

    I had recieved my email from april o neil. I knew that i had paid everyone off so i took it lightly. I admit yes my heart did stop when i was being threatened. But then i call these people back and i want them to tell me about me. And its crazy because usually they cant.

  • Bruce

    Florida has the most fraud operators of any state and the same is true for Orange County in California that also leads the nation. The people operating in these two areas know that the district attorney is overwhelmed by the number of cases and will take years to get to them. The fraud operators close their business and create a new one every year and keep right on operating.
    When computers were expensive shops would operate in Orange County in Southern California and take orders and ship PC’s for 5-6 months and then continue to take orders and charge people’s credit card and not ship the computers and pocket the money.

  • Jane

    Have gotten numerous calls from Amy. Somehow they found out daughter’s name & home number. Now they are calling her, exact same message & number, asking for me. Would like to know who & where these scammers are & sue the pants off them!

  • sweetleo

    My husband just received this message today we contacted our local news channel

  • Lynn

    Does anyone use these services trying to track people? I have someone who is a victim of domestic violence and since I’ve known her, I’ve been getting these calls.

  • Pamela

    I’m been getting these calls for weeks I don’t answer, then they call my office. No real person just a machine.

  • Andrew

    That ol’ nag Amy just left a message on my answering machine… Now that I’ve read this, I’m kinda hurt that I missed her call… The reps for these debt collection companies have no knowledge of the laws and in some cases have been held personally liable as well their company for their tactics…..

  • Anonymous

    Different name (barb Johnson) #8557673702 same spiel.

  • Maxwell

    Looks like today was my lucky day with this number. Received a VM, which by luck sounded like she timed her message to start when the recording started. Only when I looked it up did I see the entire script. Exactly the same as everyone else. Many thanks for having this listing and information available to ID this scam.

  • Vanessa

    I just got the same call with the same script, but the name was Barbara Johnson, caller ID said Austin TX (512) 792-4390.
    I wrote down the call back number of 855-767-3702 and found this article. Thank you for sharing this scam info!!

  • Anonymous

    received a second call from these people and the message was the exact wording above. the person leaving the message is a mike davis and the client’s number is 800-420-7514.

  • Ayonna

    I live in Illinois and have been receiving these calls for about 3 months. I thought I was in big trouble, but decided to google the company name before contacting them. Thank god I found this site, it saved me a headache.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Susan! I just listened to my voice mail and received the same exact message from the same number with the same return number as Vanessa! I panicked for a minute and then Googled the call back number and found your article…you rock!

  • Annoyed

    She is still going strong – I just got this on my blackberry voicemail

  • Drew

    Same call in California just now.

  • Amanda

    Same call in Idaho

  • j p

    Got one this morning in northern Illinois.

  • Richard Fischpera

    I just received a call from Jim Dorsett from Accufile 1.786.522.1527 looking for my mom. They told me about legal documents and they had mom’s correct birthday. This Jim wanted me to call 1.800.420.7512 giving them a case number which he gave me. Glad I did a search before I told my mother.

  • Richard Fischpera

    I just received a call from Jim Dorsett from Accufile 1.786.522.1527 looking for my mom. They told me about legal documents and they had mom’s correct birthday. This Jim wanted me to call 1.800.420.7512 giving them a case number which he gave me. Glad I did a search before I told my mother.

  • Gregg

    I have had that same msg on my answering machine more times than I can count in Wis.

  • Cynthia

    Same exact call came to me. The lady was screaming at me telling me she was sending the sheriff to arrest me since I would not cooperate with them and pay money to them. Unbelievable not just in Florida it’s in Texas too

  • M White

    Just had the same phone message on my home phone – word for word – as quoted in your article. I am in upstate NY. Thanks so much for writing this.

  • Susan Brown

    I just received another call from Amy. That makes 2 this week. I know more are coming so I am just going to block the call from coming in at all. I am not going to be harassed by scammers. I am quite sure I know who set them on me too, but can’t prove it. I hope the FTC does something soon and these people get their due diligence.

  • Karen E

    My call was from Barbara Johnson who left a voicemail . It sounded recorded. The call came on the day I was having open heart surgery. I just discovered it. I’m glad I found this article. Thanks!

  • F. Anthony

    I have received this call about 5 times in the last 2 weeks. From a “Amy O’Neal”.

  • Fry

    How the heck do you get them to STOP? I’ve been getting these calls at least once a day now for the last two week, and they started way back in march. Its just about hit my last nerve. I can’t stand ‘Amy’s’ voice anymore.

  • Patricia He

    Just got this call. Thanks for the info.

  • Amy O’neal

    Wow these people are active. They just called us today in Arizona. They left the same message verbatim but had a new phone number they were calling from 239-676-3874

  • christine

    I received the same exact message..(word for word!!)..from the same person with the same 800 callback number!! It isn’t the first time I’ve received this type of call..I don’t answer them nor do I bother to call them back!! I figured..I’ll wait for them to put it in writing with proof they are who they said they are!!

  • GHB

    this literally happened to me a few hours ago. i sent the call to voicemail because i dont answer unrecognized numbers.
    at first i thought it was legit but once i heard the “show id coming to your door” bs i knew it was a load of crap.
    let someone come to my door. they’ll have a gun aimed right at their head.
    gtfo, scammers.

  • Susie

    I just got this phone call a few minutes ago as well. I let it go to voicemail and when I heard the message (same message everyone else is getting) I immeditately googled the number and found your article. Thank you so much for writing this article at least I have some peace of mind. That phone call really worried me. Thanks again!

  • Judy

    I get this call daily on my cell.. I blocked the number.. Now just got the same Amy on my land line.
    So so annoying!

  • Donald

    I am really annoyed because I am now finding a message on my answering machine every day when I get home from work. In addition, I sometimes get an addition call in the evening. How does one stop these calls?

  • Kimberly

    I’ve been receiving messages from “Amy” since the beginning of the year, too! I was so freaked out at first that I called the call back number & spoke to a guy who was threatening to “send the case to his legal dept”… it was re: a 15 yr old “supposed” debt. I knew something was fishy because they called me by a married name that I changed after my divorce 16 years ago & I never received anything the mail. I researched & discovered that it’s not legal to collect on a debt that old. Thankfully I didn’t give the guy any info. (I was livid from being threatened over a bogus debt!) I’ll have to read your linked post on how to get off their call list.

  • Donna

    I get the same call every couple months. The name is different, but the dialogue is exactly the same. It comes often enough that I’m trying to think of creative things to do, like blow an ear drum breaking whistle into the phone or try to get the caller hot and bothered. It’s obviously a scam, because I know my accounts and such, but I’m starting to have fun with it, trying to think of creative ways to insult the caller.

  • Ross Arkin

    I received a nearly identical call today. The call was from (703) 822-4378 (Alexandria, VA). The name of the representative was Jamie Alexander and the company was On Track Filing. The rest of the message was the same as yours verbatim aside from the return phone number.