Debt collection scam results in $25 million settlement
Fake debt collectors called from India and ripped off millions from consumers nationwide, the FTC said. The perps were fined and shut down.
A bold scheme involving phony debt collection calls placed from India to consumers around the U.S. has resulted in a settlement of more than $25 million, the Federal Trade Commission announced on Tuesday.
The FTC said the scammers used phony financial records and engaged a call center in India to collect on payday loans from people who either did not owe anything or owed to someone else.
Callers "used threats, lies and abusive tactics to collect debts from consumers who had previously applied for or received loans from online payday loan companies and had supplied sensitive personal financial information that later found its way into the hands of those involved with the scam," the FTC said.
The FTC brought charges last year against Brett Fisher, Pro Credit Group LLC, Consumer Credit Group LLC, and My Success Track LLC. The agency won a court order and shut down the operations, which were based in Florida. In addition to the debt collection scam, the FTC said they also operated a scheme that involved convincing people they could lower their credit card interest rates -- for a price.
The resulting settlement imposes a $25.3 million settlement on Fisher. The other defendants face judgments that total tens of millions of dollars but these are to be satisfied by the surrender of assets.
At least $5 million was collected through the scam, the FTC said. Even though complaints were pouring in against the company and the tactics they used, they continued to press forward -- refusing to refund consumers and going after still more.
In the other scam, the FTC said, Fisher, Sanders, Dale Robinson, William Balsamo, along with five businesses under their control used robocalls -- including the infamous "Rachel from Cardholder Services" -- to dupe consumers into believing they could get their interest rates lowered by buying into their program. Consumers paid $695-$995 up-front to enroll in the program, a violation of federal law, the FTC said.
Under the settlements:
- Fisher faces a $25.3 million judgment and agreed that it will not be discharged as a result of his pending bankruptcy filing.
- Fisher is banned from debt collection, telemarketing, and from promoting financial goods and services.
- Sanders and his related law firms are banned from debt collection and telemarketing -– but he is allowed to continue practicing law. He faces a $23.8 million judgment and must surrender available assets.
- Robinson is banned from telemarketing and offering debt relief services. He must surrender available assets to settle a $7.2 million judgment.
- First Financial Asset Services, Inc. and Balsamo are banned from providing debt relief services or being involved with robocalls. He was ordered to surrender his available assets to settle an $11.2 million judgment.
More from MSN Money:
- Court order shuts down payday loan scam
- Identity thieves target college kids
- Kids: They'll kill your devices
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