A District Court judge in South Carolina has lifted the seal on two complaints filed by the Federal Trade Commission against debt collection operations that are accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by allegedly convincing unsuspecting individuals that lawsuits have been, or will soon be, filed against them if they do not make payments on the debts, which the individuals actually do not owe.
A copy of the complaint in the case of FTC v. National Landmark Logistics, LLC, et al can be accessed by clicking here. A copy of the complaint in the case of FTC v. Absolute Financial Services, LLC, et al can be accessed by clicking here.
The complaints were filed in mid-July, but the FTC requested they be held under seal until all the defendants could be served “and the danger that advance knowledge by Defendants would pose to the court’s ability to obtain effective final relief, including restitution for defrauded consumers, has passed.”
The defendants allegedly made automated robocalls to individuals, telling them they will be served with important papers at home or work or that they might be subject to an audit. The message informed the individual to call another number for more information. The defendants did not say that the calls were coming from a debt collector.
When individuals called the number left in the message, they were told — by individuals who purported themselves to work at a law firm or mediation company — that they had an unpaid credit card debt and were facing a legal action or arrest for committing credit card fraud.
The collectors had no such authority to have someone arrested and never planned to act on their threat to take legal action, the FTC alleges in its complaint. In fact, “in numerous instances” the debts themselves were fake.
The defendants allegedly collected more than $5.2 million through the scheme.