WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau), in partnership with the New York Attorney General (NYAG), today filed suit against a network of five different companies based outside of Buffalo, New York, two of their owners, and two of their managers, for their participation in a debt-collection operation using illegal methods to collect debts. The company defendants are: JPL Recovery Solutions, LLC; Regency One Capital LLC; ROC Asset Solutions LLC, which does business as API Recovery Solutions; Check Security Associates LLC, which does business as Warner Location Services and Orchard Payment Processing Systems; and Keystone Recovery Group. The individual defendants are Christopher Di Re and Scott Croce, who have held ownership interests in some or all of the defendant companies, and Brian Koziel and Marc Gracie, who are members of Keystone Recovery Group, and have acted as managers of some or all of the defendant companies. The complaint alleges that from at least 2015 through the present, the defendants have participated in a debt-collection operation that has used deceptive, harassing, and improper methods to induce consumers to make payments to them in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA).
“This lawsuit should send a clear message to debt collectors who violate the law that we will take action to stop such practices and protect consumers,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen L. Kraninger. “The Bureau is committed to holding these companies and individuals accountable for threatening, harassing, and deceiving consumers. I thank Attorney General James and her staff for working with us on this matter.”
“We will not sit idly by as debt collectors extort payment from consumers by using illegal, deceitful tactics,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Collecting on money that consumers do not owe—and doing so using false threats of arrest and other unscrupulous means—is inexcusable and unlawful. My office is committed to defending the rights of New Yorkers, and I thank the CFPB for their partnership in this case.”
The complaint, which the Bureau and NYAG filed in the federal district court for the Western District of New York, alleges that defendants violated several provisions of the FDCPA by threatening consumers with arrest or legal action the firms had no intention of taking or could not legally take; threatening to contact consumers’ employers to disclose the debt; claiming consumers owed more debt than they did in order to convince them to pay the amount they owed; impermissibly contacting consumers’ friends, family, and workplace to disclose the existence of a consumer’s debt or to shame or humiliate them; harassing consumers by using intimidating, belittling, or menacing language and repeatedly and excessively phoning consumers; and failing to provide legally required notices informing consumers of their right to know how much they owed and of their ability to dispute the amount or existence of the purported debt.
The complaint further alleges that defendants engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the CFPA by misrepresenting that they would have the consumer arrested, that they would file lawsuits they did not intend to file, that they would garnish the wages of the consumer, and that the consumer owed more than they actually did. The complaint also alleges that the violations of the FDCPA constituted violations of the CFPA and that the individual defendants substantially assisted the firms in their deceptive conduct.
The NYAG additionally alleges violations of New York law based on the same conduct.
The complaint seeks consumer redress, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil money penalties, and appropriate injunctive relief against the defendants.
The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have violated the law.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.