The FTC today, December 6th, obtained a court order banning fraudulent debt collectors posing as attorneys form practicing debt collection activities.
On July 2017 the FTC filed a complaint against Alliance Law Group claiming they were posing as lawyers and threatening to sue people for debts they did not own. The defendants are Hardco Holding Group LLC, S&H Financial Group Inc. and Daryl M. Hall and today’s settlement resolved the charges against them halting their operations and freezing their assets. (Defendant Dequan M. Sicard continues to litigate). The FTC charged them with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
This order bans them from buying or selling consumer or commercial debt, trading in consumer information related to debt, profiting from such personal information obtained from debt collection activities.
The FTC claims the defendants took people’s money for “phantom” debts they did not owe by posing as attorneys ready to sue them and threatening to arrest them if they did not pay. The Commission also alleged that they did not identify as debt collectors when calling, and that a criminal action or lawsuit had been filed against the victims, threatening them with prison time or police arrest. They also pretended to be legitimate small businesses who’s reputation was tarnished when the targeted consumers called the businesses to complain. Lastly, the FTC charges included the illegal disclosure of purported debts to third parties and not providing opportunities to dispute the debt.
The United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division is handling the case will continue to have jurisdiction over the matter. Their order reads as follows:
BAN ON DEBT COLLECTION ACTIVITIES
I. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Settling Defendants, whether acting directly or through any other person, are permanently restrained and enjoined from:
A. Participating in debt collection activities; and
B. Advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, selling, or buying any consumer or commercial debt or any information regarding a consumer relating to a debt.
PROHIBITION AGAINST MISREPRESENTATIONS RELATING TO FINANCIAL RELATED PRODUCTS OR SERVICES
The court also imposed a $702,059 judgement in favor of the FTC.
For the full court order documents, click here.
For the full FTC press release, click here.