Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feds Slam Pair Who Impersonated Cops, Lawyers, Judges In Bill Collection Racket That Targeted Victims From Illegally-Obtained List Of Former Debtors

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Buffalo, New York):

  • U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced [] that Timothy E. Arent, 39, of Clarence, New York, and Neil G. Wieczkowski, 43, of Buffalo, New York, who were convicted of mail fraud and tax evasion, were sentenced [...] for their roles in a debt collection scheme.

  • Arent was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison and ordered to pay $780,000 to the IRS. Wieczkowski was sentenced to six years in prison and was ordered to pay $60,000 to the IRS. Both Arent and Wieczkowski were ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution to the victims of their scheme.

  • Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse, who handled the case, stated that from October 2006 through October 2009, Arent and Wieczkowski engaged in a fraudulent debt collection scheme. The two illegally purchased debtor information from two former employees of a Buffalo debt collection business and used the information to coerce the victims into paying fictitious debt. These former employees, Thomas Rice and Andrew Jon Pytlewski, pleaded guilty to stealing the debtor information and were sentenced to probation earlier this year.

  • The Government’s evidence revealed that as part of the scheme to defraud, the defendants impersonated law enforcement officers, attorneys, judges, paralegals, and legal assistants in an attempt to coerce victims into making payments on the fictitious debt. For instance, Arent, posing as a law enforcement officer, threatened to arrest victims if they did not immediately make a payment.(1)

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Debt Collectors Sentenced To Prison For Mail Fraud And Tax Evasion.

(1)This case is a good example of the commitment of my office to prosecute those who attempt to take advantage upon the vulnerable of our society," said U.S. Attorney Hochul.

"In this case, the defendants targeted those who had at one time accumulated financial debt which had since been repaid. The defendants thereafter looked for an additional vulnerability that they could exploit such as a medical condition.

By preying upon the legitimate concerns any such person would have, the defendants convinced the victims that they had to pay additional, wholly concocted financial obligations or be arrested.

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