We write a lot about multimillion dollar settlements over alleged frauds and scams, but it often seems like there is an inverse relationship between the amount of money involved and the amount of time spent in jail by the perpetrators. So we’re glad to hear that the man in the center of a debt collection scam that involved callers pretending to be police officers, and which defrauded American consumers out of millions, now faces criminal charges.
We’ve been covering this story since April, when the Federal Trade Commission shut down the debt collectors, alleging they were pretending to be police officers to harass consumers into paying debts that they either didn’t owe to the collection agency or didn’t owe at all.
The scam, which collected at least $5.2 million from consumers, involved more than 2.7 million calls to at least 600,000 phone numbers in just over a year.
In June, reporters tracked down the man believed be the man behind the U.S. side of the scam. His lawyer claimed the man simply set up some shell corporations and had no idea about the fraud being committed.
But a federal grandy jury has now charged him with 21 criminal counts of wire fraud and mail fraud. According to the FTC, the grand jury was shown evidence of e-mails and wire transfers that show the defendant’s connection to the scam.
Earlier this summer, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that if this man “was just a cog in the wheel he seems to have been a pretty big cog… It is clear that [he] was integrally involved with this scam.”