Rooting out the scumbags…
Alan Ceccarelli, 30, faces 41 charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and distribution of alprazolam and buprenorphine. Officers arrested Ceccarelli after an investigation into his debt collection business that went by at least eight different names.
Ceccarelli himself had at least 13 known aliases, with which he allegedly conned and coerced thousands of victims in the U.S. and in western New York into paying him funds, whether or not they actually owed debts.
Investigators say they learned he and collectors who worked for him aggressively pursued victims, harassing them into sending payments in the form of credit card, debit card and prepaid debit card payments.
To aid their credibility, police say the company used “spoofing” measures, to make the phone calls appear like they came from local police or government offices.
In total, victims paid out about $1 million to the fake company, but to make matters worse, their payments never satisfied any real debts.
One at a time, right?
These seem like good points in fighting the Big Bad Wolf.http://www.motherjones.com/files/imagecache/top-of-content-main/debt-boulder-shutterstock.jpg
What should you do if you’re being pursued by debt collectors, sketchy or otherwise? We just interviewed Jake Halpern, the author of Bad Paper, an engrossing new book about the debt-collection industry. Halpern got interested in the story when a collector started harassing his mom, and she ended up paying a debt she didn’t owe. So we asked him for some tips on how to deal with these guys when they come calling:
- If you’re sued over a debt, show up in court. Ideally hire a consumer lawyer. That’s your best bet. If you can’t afford the lawyer, show up in court and demand to see the evidence that proves this debt is valid. Often that evidence doesn’t exist.
- Know the statute of limitations in your state, and if the debt is not legally enforceable, you might want to think twice about paying it. If you [make a payment] that often that will revive the debt. The statute of limitations is reset, refreshed, and now you are legally liable for that full amount. Don’t do that!
It’s scary, but worse if you let them screw with you.
It’s funny how desperate the collector can get…they’ll beg anyone for help…
“Some bill collectors will talk to anybody in the family and try to get them to pay a bill. They’ll say it’s their ‘moral obligation,’ which is absolutely false,” Dunn said. “But people are not educated on what their rights are, and if they’ve just had a death in their family, they’re upset. So when a bill collector tells them something like this, they might be more likely to believe it [and agree to pay the debt].”
Bateman told me about a colleague who used a legal research database to track down addresses of next-of-kin, sent those relatives threatening letters about an owed amount, and then persuaded people there was a “moral obligation” to pay it. “A few times, we got payment in full from the kids or other relatives of these people. It was truly breathtaking,” Bateman said.
The Social Security Administration gives notice to financial institutions a few months after someone dies, but debt collectors usually find out much sooner by using databases to track recent deaths. Dunn, who was a bill collector herself before she became a consultant, told me she always read the newspaper obituaries to see if anyone she needed to call had died. “There used to be a newspaper—I’m sure it’s online now—where you could pay for a subscription and see, state by state, the people who have died that day,” she said.
I would bet they call homeless shelters if they could.
Read about becoming a software developer without going to college – and getting into college debt – by reading $uccess Without College Roadmap to Software Developer by Christine Axsmith.