A federal judge has banned a group of debt collectors who pretended to be affiliated with the government from the collection business and ordered them to pay nearly $11 million, after granting the Federal Trade Commission’s request for summary judgment.
The action is part of Operation Collection Protection, a continuing nationwide crackdown on collectors whose illegal tactics include harassing phone calls and false threats of lawsuits and arrest. In February 2014, the FTC had charged Mark Briandi, William Moses and 13 companies collectively known as Federal Check Processing with pretending to be affiliated with the government, falsely accusing consumers of committing check fraud, and threatening to have them arrested or sued in violation of the FTC Act and Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act.
In April 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer recommended that the court grant the FTC’s request for summary judgment on all counts, and that the defendants be banned from debt collection activities and making misrepresentations about financial products and services. Judge Roemer also recommended that the court impose a judgment of more than $10.8 million against the defendants, and a $92,000 judgment against Empowered Racing LLC, a relief defendant that profited from the scheme.
On August 12, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny adopted the Magistrate Court’s report and recommendation and granted the FTC’s motion in its entirety. Judge Skretny issued the final judgment and order on October 13, 2016.
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