The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced settlements in a pair of cases it brought under Operation Corrupt Collector, where each of the defendants have agreed to lifetime bans from working in the collection industry and will turn over all the money in their bank accounts to satisfy more than $27 million in judgments that were entered in favor of the FTC.
A copy of the settlement in the case of FTC v. Absolute Financial Services et al can be accessed by clicking here. A copy of the settlement in the case of FTC v. National Landmark Logistics et al can be accessed by clicking here.
Both companies were sued by the FTC last year for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for attempting to convince unsuspecting individuals that lawsuits had been, or soon would be, filed against them if they did not make payments on the debts, which the individuals actually did not owe.
“No one should be faced with deceptive calls from debt collectors making empty threats about debts they have no right to collect,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “When it comes to abusive debt collection, the FTC won’t hesitate to act to put a stop to these practices and protect people.”
All of the defendants have been permanently banned from the collection industry and are also prohibited from making misrepresentations to consumers, including whether consumers owe them a payment, whether they are attorneys or associated with a law firm, or the terms of any refund program.
The settlement with National Landmark Logistics includes a monetary judgment of $16.4 million, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The corporate defendants will be required to turn over the contents of their bank accounts to the FTC. The settlement with Absolute Financial Services includes a monetary judgment of $11.2 million, which has also been partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The corporate defendants will be required to turn over their bank accounts and one of the named defendants — Lashone Elam — will be required to hand over $10,000.
The FTC launched Operation Corrupt Collector, which it called a “crackdown” on collection operations that engage in abusive or harassing practices while also attempting to collect on debts that do not exist, last September.