South Carolina companies used robocalls, illegal threats to convince consumers to pay non-existent debts
Defendants in two Federal Trade Commission cases will be permanently banned from the debt collection industry as part of settlements resolving FTC charges they threatened consumers with legal action to collect on debts that did not exist.
In complaints filed as part of the Operation Corrupt Collector enforcement sweep, the FTC accused National Landmark Logistics and Absolute Financial Services of using illegal robocalls to leave messages with consumers that threatened outcomes from lawsuits to arrest. The messages didn’t identify the caller as a debt collector, and when consumers would return the calls, the defendants would present themselves as mediators or attorneys.
In most cases, the debts being collected by National Landmark and Absolute Financial were not actually owed by the consumers, either because they never existed in the first place or had been previously paid off.
“No one should be faced with deceptive calls from debt collectors making empty threats about debts they have no right to collect,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When it comes to abusive debt collection, the FTC won’t hesitate to act to put a stop to these practices and protect people.”
National Landmark Logistics
Under the terms of this settlement, defendants Liberty Solutions & Associates, LLC; LSA Processing Systems, LLC; James Dennison; and Eric Dennison will be permanently banned from playing any role in debt collection. They will also be prohibited from making certain misrepresentations to consumers, including whether a consumer owes them a payment, whether they are attorneys or associated with a law firm, or the terms of any refund program.
The settlement contains a monetary judgment of $16,418,306, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The defendants will be required to turn over the contents of numerous bank accounts to the FTC.
The FTC’s case against National Landmark Logistics, LLC; National Landmark Service of United Recovery, LLC; Silverlake Landmark Recovery Group, LLC; and Jean Cellent will continue.
Absolute Financial Services
Under the terms of their settlements, Lashone Elam (also known as Lashone Caldwell); Absolute Financial Services, LLC; Absolute Financial Services Recovery, LLC; AFSR Global Logistics, LLC; and Talesia Neely will be permanently banned from playing any role in debt collection.
They will also be prohibited from making certain misrepresentations to consumers, including whether a consumer owes them a payment, whether they are attorneys or associated with a law firm, or the terms of any refund program.
The settlement with the corporate defendants and Elam contains a monetary judgment of $11,281,993, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The corporate defendants will be required to turn over the contents of a number of bank accounts to the FTC, while Elam will be required to turn over $10,000.
If any of the defendants in either the National Landmark or Absolute Financial cases are found to have misrepresented their financial status, the full amount of their judgments would become due immediately. In addition, all of the settling defendants will be required to cooperate with the FTC in ongoing law enforcement actions.
The Commission votes approving the stipulated final orders were 4-0. The FTC filed the orders in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions, etc. have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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