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Don’t Fall Victim to Scammers: Camille Habayeb Shares His Story

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It was a typical day for Camille Habayeb when his personal cell phone rang around noon.

“The lady said, ‘Is this Mr. Habayeb?’ I replied, ‘Yes,'” recounted Habayeb. “She told me, ‘I need to find out when you will be home so that I can drop off an envelope for you, but I need your signature.'”

The caller, from a law firm, did not provide any further details but left Habayeb with the firm’s phone number. “When I called, they answered with the name of the law firm,” recalled Habayeb.

After introducing himself, Habayeb was asked to provide personal information. “She said, ‘I don’t want your social security number, but can you give me the last four digits?’ So, I obliged,” explained Habayeb. “To my surprise, when I finished giving the four digits, she recited my entire social security number back to me.”

That’s when the man on the phone revealed the purpose of his earlier call. “He informed me, ‘You are being subpoenaed to go to court because you have defaulted on a 2016 loan with Community Bank. The judgment against you could range from $9,000 to $13,000.'”

However, the so-called “firm” offered a deal: settle the matter by paying $4,000 by 4 p.m. “They said, ‘We accept either Visa or credit card, but we will not accept checking account routing numbers,'” said Habayeb. If he didn’t comply, the firm threatened to contact Habayeb’s family.

“He even mentioned the names of my wife, my two children, and my brothers who live overseas,” Habayeb continued. “Right then, I thought to myself, ‘This is suspicious!'” Trusting his instincts, Habayeb hung up and immediately contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

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“They assured me that it was indeed a scam,” Habayeb stated. He chose not to call back, and upon careful reflection, he remembered a crucial detail. “I’ve never taken out a loan from anyone,” Habayeb realized.

The scammers had successfully instilled panic in Habayeb and coerced him into feeling the need to act. He now wants to ensure that others don’t fall victim to this scheme.

“There are vulnerable people out there who might not understand the situation,” expressed Habayeb. “Therefore, I felt obligated to share my story and raise awareness.”

Habayeb informed Better Call 4 that after he refused to return the scammers’ calls, they attempted to reach him at home and even contacted one of his sons. Fortunately, nobody responded, and they haven’t heard from the scammers since.

Regarding how the scammers obtained his personal information, Habayeb was informed by the Attorney General’s Office that such information is readily available, allowing fraudsters to connect the dots. The office advised Habayeb to contact the Social Security Administration and his financial institutions to place fraud alerts on his accounts—an action that you may also consider taking.

Remember, vigilance is key in protecting yourself from scams. Stay one step ahead, and don’t let these fraudsters succeed.

This scam, experienced by Camille Habayeb, is a stark reminder of the importance of remaining alert. Together, we can overcome these challenges.

Garrity Traina