A relief defendant in a case against a defunct New Jersey collection agency charged with dunning consumers for debts they did not owe has agreed to turn over money she obtained as a result of the alleged scheme. Elisabeth M. Sussman, wife of collection agency owner Barry Sussman, will turn over approximately $600,000 to the Federal Trade Commission under a settlement agreement with the agency. The FTC’s legal action against Barry Sussman and four other defendants continues.
In a complaint filed in May 2003, the FTC alleged that the defendants violated federal laws by harassing consumers and threatening them with arrest and prosecution unless the consumers immediately paid the collection agency money they did not owe for checks returned for insufficient funds. The defendants allegedly harassed consumers with repeated phone calls, sent threatening letters, and falsely threatened that consumers could face civil or criminal charges if they did not pay the debts. The FTC alleged that, in many cases, the defendants collected amounts far in excess of any amounts that consumers might have owed.
The FTC’s complaint named as defendants Check Investors, Inc. (d/b/a National Check Control), Check Enforcement, Inc. (d/b/a Goldman Check Systems), Jaredco, Inc. (d/b/a Goldman & Co.), their principal, Barry Sussman, and their corporate counsel, Charles T. Hutchins, as well as Elisabeth Sussman. When it filed the settlement with Elisabeth Sussman, the FTC also filed an amended complaint naming Ms. Sussman as a relief defendant. According to the amended complaint, Elisabeth Sussman unlawfully received funds and other property from consumer payments to her husband’s agencies.
The FTC received substantial assistance in pursuing this matter from Postal Inspectors from the North Jersey/Caribbean Division; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey; and the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. In addition, the FTC would like to thank the following states for their invaluable assistance in investigating this matter and bringing the complaint: Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file an amended complaint and approving a stipulated final order as to relief defendant Elisabeth Sussman was 5-0. The amended complaint and settlement were entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on October 5, 2004.
Note: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an
admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the Commission’s complaint and stipulated final order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC File No. X030068)
(Civil Action No. 03-2115 (JWB))
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Consumer Protection