ALBANY, NY (WTEN) – New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have shut down a predatory debt collection operation.
The operation used deceptive and abusive tactics to illegally collect millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of consumers.
The debt collection operation, made up of several companies, falsely threatened consumers with dire consequences if they did not pay, inflated the actual amount of debts owed and contacted friends, family members and employers consumers to harass consumers. As a result of the actions taken by Attorney General James and the CFPB, this debt collection operation, its owners and managers must pay $4 million and are permanently banned from the debt collection industry.
- JPL Recovery Solutions, LLC
- Regency One Capital LLC
- ROC Asset Solutions LLC, doing business as API Recovery Solutions
- Check Security Associates LLC, doing business as Warner Location Services and Orchard Payment Processing Systems
- Keystone Recovery Group
These companies were owned by Christopher Di Re, Scott Croce and Susan Croce, and were run by Brian Koziel and Marc Gracie. The CFPB’s action with the New York Attorney General bars the leaders of this predatory industry debt collection operation to stop further wrongdoing, says CFPB Director Rohit Chopra.
The complaint alleged that the owners, managers and businesses used the following illegal tactics to collect the debt:
- Arrest and imprisonment falsely claimed: On occasion, debt collectors working for these companies falsely threatened consumers with arrest and imprisonment if they did not pay.
- Lied about a lawsuit: The companies were wrongly threatening consumers with legal action, including wage garnishment and seizure of property.
- Inflated debts and distorted amounts owed: Defendants falsely inflated the amount owed to convince people that paying the amount they actually owe represents a substantial discount. To further constrain consumers, collectors said this was an offer that would only be available for a short time.
- Creation of “defamation campaigns”: Collectors reached out to consumers’ immediate family members, grandparents, extended family members, in-laws, ex-spouses, employers, co-workers, landlords, Facebook friends and other known associates, to pressure people into paying. Collectors did this even after consumers told collectors to stop contact. Victims called these tactics “emotional terrorism.”
- People harassed with repeated phone calls: Collectors repeatedly called people several times a day over periods of a month or more. The collectors were indeed instructed to let the consumer hang up on each call so that he could pretend in his call logs that he had been disconnected, and then call back the next day. Collectors also used insulting and disparaging language and engaged in bullying behavior on the call.
- Has not provided the information required by law: Collectors have failed to provide consumers with legally required notices detailing their rights. When people asked for them, some collectors refused to provide them.
As a result of the settlement, this operation must pay $2 million to New York and $2 million to the CFPB. If they don’t pay the $4 million judgment quickly, they’ll have to pay another $1 million.