BUFFALO, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday that his office and the Federal Trade Commission have obtained a preliminary injunction against a debt collection operation that allegedly violated state and federal laws.
Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against three individuals, Joseph Bella, Luis Shaw and Diane Bella, and nine interrelated companies that allegedly engaged in illegal conduct related to debt collection.
The defendants bought and collected debts, most often debts originating from payday loans. They allegedly misrepresented that consumers committed check fraud or other unlawful acts related to the debt, and allegedly threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest, imprisonment or seizure of assets unless the consumers paid the debt immediately.
The defendants also allegedly repeated the deceptive claims to consumers' friends, family members, coworkers and employees.
"All too often, innocent New Yorkers are relentlessly harassed by predatory, abusive debt collectors," Schneiderman said. "My office, along with partners like the Federal Trade Commission, will keep fighting to protect hardworking consumers and put a stop to unfair financial bullying once and for all."
Federal District Court Judge Richard Arcara issued a preliminary injunction that halts the debt operation, freezes the operation's assets and appoints a temporary receiver to take over the defendants' businesses.
Other defendants named in the lawsuit include eCapital LLC, Buffalo Staffing Inc., Mullins & Kane LLC, Morgan Jackson LLC, Goldberg Maxwell LLC, American Mutual Holdings Inc., Check Systems LLC and National Check Registry LLC.