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Aurora restaurant harassed by scam bill collectors

7:26 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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AURORA - Tortas Y Tacos El Chino is a tiny eatery near Del Mar Park off Peoria in Aurora. It's a popular place for the people who know the quality of the food.

"Even if you come in asking for directions, we're going to give respect and the treatment that you deserve," Sean Todd, the owner's son-in-law, said. "We're all in this together. We're all people."

Recently the restaurant got a number of phone calls threatening its business and well-being.

"Calling on behalf of a lawyer office saying that we've been investigating several complaints, numerous complaints actually, since the beginning of the year, which really struck me as odd because we really pride ourselves on service. I know we give good service," Todd said.

The caller didn't ask for any money and hung up. An employee received another call to the restaurant.

"One of our waitresses had received a phone call from someone who said they were in court and [the restaurant] had about an hour to pay the electricity. They were going to shut the electricity off, which of course we know that is not the way," Todd said. "I'm not sure why they would throw such a thing out."

The Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder says they've heard that a number of people have gotten those calls. The Denver District Attorney's office also put out an advisory about a similar problem earlier this year.

"People are pretending to collect some kind of debt or some kind of past due bill," said Megan Herrera, public relations specialist for the BBB. "In some of the instances we've heard they're pretending to be law enforcement or lawyers."

According to the BBB, the scammer then falsely claimed he would have the restaurant closed down and his law firm had a date scheduled in court, if the business didn't pay a fine immediately.

The BBB says it's not about the number of calls they're heard about, they're concerned about how aggressive they are.

"They're making very serious threats and demanding immediate payment and they're saying we want this sent via wire transfer," Herrera said."That's a big red flag because wire transfers are the common method used by criminals and scammers, because they can't be traced."

What to do if you get a call like this:

  • DO NOT give out your financial or personal information, or send a payment via wire transfer or otherwise-no matter what they say.
  • DO NOT verify information they ask you such as, "Is this your name? Is this your address; Are these the last four digits of your social security number?"
  • If calls become excessive or threats are made, file a police report with your local authorities.
  • Independently verify that you don't have any outstanding debt.
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): ftc.gov, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI): Colorado.gov and BBB Scam Stopper: denver.bbb.org/scam-source. 
  • Contact the three credit-reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your file:
Equifax 1-800-437-8432, equifax.com
Experian 1-888-397-3742, experian.com
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289, transunion.com



(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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