Collection agencies are required to pay $4 million and are permanently banned from the debt collection industry.
BUFFALO, NY — New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Monday that they are closing a predatory debt collection agency based in an Erie County location.
The debt collection operation was made up of several companies, including JPL Recovery Solutions, who used deceptive and abusive tactics to collect millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of customers. These tactics included false threats, inflated debt numbers, and contacting family, work, and friends to harass consumers.
“It is illegal for debt collectors to orchestrate smear campaigns using social media to extort consumers to pay,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said. “Our action with the New York Attorney General bars the ringleaders of this industry operation to end further misconduct.”
As a result of the actions of the Attorney General and the CFPB, the collection operation, its owners and managers must pay $4 million. Of that $4 million, half will go to the state and the other half to the CFPB. If they are not paid in a timely manner, they will have to pay another $1 million.
They are also permanently banned from the debt collection industry.
“This debt collection operation used illegal and deceptive tactics to prey on consumers, and now they are paying the price for the harm they caused,” James said. “Predatory debt collectors make their profit by targeting hard-working consumers and then illegally pushing them further into debt. These debt collectors have used harassing calls and fake threats to coerce consumers into paying, actions that are both illegal and downright shameful. Today’s action should send a strong message to debt collectors nationwide that we will not hesitate to use the full force of the law to hold them accountable if they harm consumers.
The companies making up the operation were based in Getzville. Companies bought defaulted consumer debt for pennies on the dollar from high-interest personal loans, payday loans, credit cards and other sources.
The operation attempted to collect debt from about 239,000 consumers and generated revenue of about $93 million from 2015 to 2020, according to the attorney general’s office.
Companies involved in this transaction included JPL Recovery Solutions, LLC; Regency One Capital LLC; ROC Asset Solutions LLC, doing business as API Recovery Solutions; Check Security Associates LLC, which does business as Warner Location Services and Orchard Payment Processing Systems; and the Keystone Recovery Group. Those companies were owned by Christopher Di Re, Scott Croce and Susan Croce, and were managed by Brian Koziel and Marc Gracie, according to the attorney general’s office.
Attorney General James and the CFPB alleged that the operation used the following illegal tactics to collect the debt:
- Arrest and imprisonment falsely claimed
- Lied about a lawsuit
- Inflated debts and distorted amounts owed
- Creation of “smear campaigns”
- People harassed with repeated phone calls
- Did not provide the information required by law