Man Charged With Operating Debt Collection Scheme That Targeted, Defrauded Spanish-Speaking Consumers

Deceiving consumers is a trademark for most unscrupulous operations attempting to collect debts that aren’t actually owed. Shady collectors have been known to lie about debts, misrepresent themselves as officers of the law, threaten lawsuits and, in the case of one operator, threaten Spanish-speaking residents with deportation.

The Department of Justice announced today that it had charged the owner of Fonomundo FC with fraud and attempted extortion for allegedly defrauding Spanish-speaking U.S. residents through a series of threats and false accusations.

A grand jury in Miami indicted Cesar Luis Kou Reyna with 33 counts including: conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and attempted extortion stemming from an operation he ran via call centers in Peru and Miami.

According to the Justice Department, Fonomundo FC and its affiliates in South America used Internet-based telephone calling services to place cold calls to Spanish-speaking residents in the United States.

The callers falsely claimed to be attorneys and sometimes claimed to be government representatives. Callers claimed that victims had failed to pay for or receive a delivery of products, although the victims had not ordered these products.

Often the callers claimed that victims would be sued and that the companies would obtain large monetary judgements against them.

At times, victims were threatened with negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment or deportation unless the person immediately paid “settlement fees.” As a result, many of the victims made payments to the company.

“The Department of Justice is committed to addressing the noted increase in fraud schemes targeting specific communities of U.S. residents,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer. “As this case and other recent examples show, we will track down those responsible for defrauding American consumers, no matter where the fraudster resides, what language the fraudster uses or which population he or she targets.”

Peruvian Man Charged with Leading Conspiracy to Defraud and Extort Spanish-Speaking Consumers through Call Centers [DOJ]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.