On June 26, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against a debt broker, debt collector and their principals to shut down a phantom debt collection scheme. According to the complaint, debt broker Hylan Asset Management LLC and its owner, Andrew Shaevel, purchased, placed for collection, and sold phantom debts. The complaint alleges that Hylan knew that the debts were fabricated because they were purchased from Hirsch Mohindra and Joel Tucker, two individuals who were previously sued by the FTC. As a result of those actions, Mohindra was banned from the debt collection business and from selling debt portfolios and Tucker was banned from handling sensitive financial information about consumer debts.
The lawsuit also charges a debt collector, Worldwide Processing Group, LLC and its owner Frank Ungaro, Jr. for their role in collecting these phantom debts. The complaint alleges that Worldwide and Ungaro engaged in illegal collection practices and similarly knew that the debts were fabricated.
Hylan and Shaevel are charged with violating the FTC Act by marketing and distributing counterfeit and unauthorized debts. Worldwide and Ungaro are charged with violating the FTC Act by making false or misleading representations that the consumers owe debts. Worldwide and Ungaro are additionally charged with violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by making false, deceptive, or misleading representations to consumers, engaging in unlawful communications with third parties, and failing to provide statutorily-required notices.
All of the defendants, including those individually named, are charged with violations of New York General Business Law § 349 by engaging in deceptive acts or practices in connection with conducting their debt sales and collection businesses, along with violations of New York State Debt Collection Law by engaging in prohibited debt collection practices under the statute, including, disclosing or threatening to disclose information affecting the debtor’s reputation for credit worthiness with knowledge or reason to know that the information is false and claiming, or attempting to enforce a right with knowledge or reason to know that the right does not exist.
This lawsuit is part of the FTC’s and State Attorneys General continuing efforts to crackdown on phantom debt schemes.