A North Carolina woman has pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering after being accused of orchestrating a collection scheme that netted $1.9 million in payments from unsuspecting individuals.
Carissa Eugenia Brown is facing 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the money laundering charge. A sentencing date has not been set.
For five years, through this past July, Brown used three different companies — Accredited Recovery Solutions, LLC, (a/k/a Accredited Recovery Network); Elite Credit Adjusters, LLC (a/k/a Elite Credit Network); and Martin Recovery Group, LLC (a/k/a Martin Recovery, P.C. and the Law Office of Martin and Associates) — to contact individuals who had been sued by creditors for their outstanding debts. Brown would lie to the individuals, telling them she was authorized to collect the debt on behalf of those creditors, and then work out a settlement arrangement with them, usually for about half of what was owed. Brown would mail “official-looking documents, including a purported settlement agreement” to the individuals, who made their payments and believed their debts and outstanding court cases would be resolved, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, who is prosecuting the case.
To keep up the ruse, Brown also sent letters to the individuals in letterhead to make it look like the letter was coming from a law firm and left voicemails for individuals where she said she was calling from a law firm. In some cases, Brown would threaten to have the individuals’ wages garnished, seize their bank accounts, or file judgments in court if a payment was not received.
Brown has been released on a $25,000 bond.