The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is mailing 5,232 checks, for an average of $525 each, to people who were victimized in a debt collection scam run by the owners of Rincon Debt Management.
The owners of the collection agency, Jason R. Begley and Wayne W. Lunsford, agreed to surrender $3.3 million and were banned permanently from the collection industry back in 2014.
The FTC announced that people who lost money were getting the full amount they were owed back. The total dollar amount of checks being mailed is $2.7 million. The FTC did not say why it took nearly three years for the checks to be mailed out.
To coerce individuals, especially Spanish-speaking ones, the perpetrators of the scam called them, and their families, friends, and neighbors, posing as process servers, seeking to deliver legal papers related to a lawsuit. In some cases, the defendants threatened individuals with arrest if a payment was not made or if calls were not responded to. The defendants also misrepresented themselves as lawyers and employees in a law office, demanding court costs and legal fees, even though no lawsuits were ever filed.
The original judgment levied against the defendants as $23 million, but almost $20 million of that was suspended because the defendants did not have enough assets to cover the full fine. The two defendants also had to pay $300,000 in fines for selling their homes when their assets had been frozen.