I was hoping to hear from you. However, I'll reply now, and if you have a follow up or further information for me, you can reply here to this question thread and I will add to my answer.
Your instincts are correct. This smells strongly of scam to me. In hard times, unscrupulous people come out of the woodwork and try to intimidate people into paying money for debts they do not even owe, and that's exactly what this sounds like.
If you are quite sure that this debt has already been discharged, you are probably right. It is illeal for debt collection agencies to harass you and both illegal and untrue to threaten you with prosecution for an unpaid civil offense. We do not have debtor's prisons in this country. This is a civil matter and his threats of prosecution are unlawful.
You don't have to put up with this. You have substantial consumer rights in this area under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Here's a specific section of the FDCPA that you will find useful so that you can dispute any debt and/or send this agency a cease and desist letter:
"Validation of debts [15 USC 1692g](a) Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing --(1) the amount of the debt;(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and(5) a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.(c) The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.
The Federal Trade Commission gives a wonderful overview of the overaggressive and/or fake collection agencies and how to get them off of your back, where to report them, where to learn more, etc. And unlike the law itself, it's pretty straightforward. You can access that here at
But in short, you want to dispute the debt -- that's the term you use with them, and you shold do it in writing.Once you have disputed the debt you can report any episode of harassment these folks make to the Federal Trade Commission and they can be fined $1,000 for each incident!
If this is an outright scam, the above will only take you so far. Most scammers make these calls from outside of the country. They don't care about Federal Acts or do not call lists. And they are not worried about fines, because they can't be found. But they will also know that you know your rights and that you're not about to pay up if they can't prove you owe this debt.
Once you tell them you're disputing the debt you can just ignore them. If they are legitimate and the debt is legitimate, they will have to take you to court. But we both know that they are scammers. If you block them and do not respond further to phone calls or email, they will know you can't be fooled and move on to someone else. Meanwhile report them to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is the FBI's computer crime website, at IC3.gov.