The CFPB filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the leaders of a debt collection operation for harassing, threatening and misleading consumers. The payment processors and a telemarketing company that provided the platform for the criminals were also included in the suit.
Marcus Brown of New York and Mohan Bagga of Georgia allegedly led the group of individuals and entities that deceived consumers into paying debt they did not actually owe. The group formed companies such as Universal Debt Solutions, LLC, Check & Credit Recovery, LLC and Credit Power, LLC, to carry out the scheme. Each company is mentioned in the CFPB’s complaint.
According to the complaint, Bagga and Brown violated the law by threatening consumers with jail time, legal action and wage garnishment to collect the phantom debt.
“The ringleaders of the scheme, the telemarketing company that broadcast millions of robo-calls, and the companies that processed the payments should all be held accountable for taking advantage of vulnerable consumers,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said.
According to the CFPB, the debt collection scheme would not have worked without the participation of Global Connect, the telemarketing company, which sent millions of automated messages to consumers. The CFPB claimed Global Connect was aware the messages contained unlawful content.
Payment processors such as Global Payments, Frontline, Pathfinder and Electronic Merchant Systems allowed Brown and Bagga to accept debit and credit card payments as part of the scheme.
Consumers allegedly fell victim of the scheme because the collectors had verified consumers’ personal information, including date of birth, social security number, employment information and the names of family members.
“In response to the debt collectors’ threats and false statements, consumers provided credit or debit card payment information,” the CFPB said. “The complaint alleges that once the debt collectors got consumers’ payment information, they would submit it to the payment processors, who enabled the collectors to access consumers’ bank accounts to withdraw money, despite the many indications of misconduct.”
The latest complaint comes after the CFPB sued a company that allegedly used intimidation tactics to collect funds from bounced checks.