Phantom Debt Collectors Permanently Banned from Industry in FTC Settlement

Defendants threatened consumers with lawsuits and arrest while trying to collect non-existent debts

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A group of phantom debt collectors will be permanently banned from the debt collection industry and required to surrender the contents of numerous bank and investment accounts under the terms of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC’s complaint against South Carolina-based National Landmark Logistics, filed in July 2020, alleged that the defendants in the case used robocalls to leave deceptive messages claiming consumers faced imminent legal action—lawsuits or even arrest—for unpaid debts.

When consumers returned the calls, the defendants falsely claimed to be from a mediation or law firm, again threatened legal action, and used consumers’ personal information to convince consumers the threats were real. The defendants turned around and pocketed the money, despite the fact that in many instances, consumers did not owe the debt being collected on or the defendants had no right to collect it.

Under the terms of the settlement, National Landmark Logistics, LLC; National Landmark Service of United Recovery, LLC; Silverlake Landmark Recovery Group, LLC; and Jean Cellent will be permanently banned from debt collection of any kind. They will also be banned from buying or selling debt, and from making any misrepresentations to consumers about any goods or services—including from claiming that they are lawyers or represent a law firm.

The settlement also includes a monetary judgment of $12,098,760, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. In addition, the defendants will be required to surrender the contents of numerous bank and investment accounts, as well as the title to property located in Philadelphia and a Mercedes SL 550 or the cash value of those assets.

If the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial status, the full amount of the monetary judgment would become immediately due.

The FTC previously announced settlements with other defendants in the case in March, 2021.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions, etc. have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

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