The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld a lower court’s summary judgment ruling, affirming an $11 million judgment and banning two individuals from the collections industry for life.
A copy of the ruling in Federal Trade Commission v. William Moses, Mark Briandi, and Federal Recoveries can be accessed by clicking here.
The FTC sought and obtained a summary judgment in 2016 against the defendants after they were accused of pretending to be affiliated with the government, accusing consumers of committing check fraud, and threatening to have them arrested or sued.
Briandi and Moses appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit. Because Moses did not file a brief in the appeal, his appeal was dismissed. Briandi sought to have the ruling that he should be held personally liable for the violations overturned.
The defendants operated a collection agency that focused on collecting unpaid payday loan debts, which were purchased from creditors. The 25 employees were directed to “falsely identify themselves as ‘processors,’ ‘officers,’ or ‘investigators’ from a ‘fraud unit’ or ‘fraud division,’ then accuse debtors of check fraud or a related crime and threaten them with criminal prosecution if they did not pay their debts,” according to the ruling.
The defendants, while being investigated by the New York Attorney General, agreed to largely clean up their act. However, the defendants instead opened up new operations in other states.
Briandi argued that he was not involved in the day-to-day operation of the agency because he was studying to become a pastor, spending his days in the office praying.
The Second Circuit rejected all of the arguments put forth by Briandi as to why he should not be held personally liable for the actions that led to the judgment.