According to a news release from the FTC (4/2/14), Jason R. Begley and Wayne W. Lunsford have agreed to surrender $3.3 million in assets following allegations about illegal debt collection practices. The FTC filed a complaint against the two, alleging violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Among the plaintiffs’ actions, according to the complaint, were pretending to be attorneys or law office employees, contacting third parties about consumers’ debt, not disclosing the name of the company they represented, misrepresenting facts about the debt, attempting to collect on debts that were not owed by the consumer being targeted, and threatening arrest if consumers did not respond to their phone calls. The FTC further alleged that the debt collectors targeted consumers who were “strapped for cash” and used abusive tactics to attempt to collect money.
“Begley and Lunsford deceived and abused Spanish- and English-speaking consumers - making bogus threats that consumers had been sued or could be arrested over debts they often did not owe,” the FTC argued.
READ MORE BILL COLLECTOR LEGAL NEWS
Included in the settlement is a $23 million judgment against the defendants, although that judgment will be suspended because the plaintiffs cannot afford to pay. More than $3 million in assets will be surrendered to refund Rincon Debt Management’s victims. Both Begley and Lunsford are also prohibited from being part of any debt relief services.
Lawsuits have been filed by the FTC and by consumers who allege unethical debt collectors have violated the rule and harassed, threatened and intimidated them in attempts to collect on debts owed. In some cases, the person the company is attempting to collect from does not owe the debts.