Defendants Must Pay Nearly $27 Million in Restitution and Damages.
New York, NY - Sept. 24, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a court order against defendants Gregory MacKinnon and Vantage Point Services, LLC; Angela Burdorf and Payment Management Solutions, Inc.; and Joseph Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions Inc. for illegal debt collection practices – including threatening to arrest consumers if their debts were not paid and adding unauthorized amounts to consumers’ debts. The court order permanently bans each defendant from the debt collection industry and requires collective payment of nearly $27 million in restitution and damages.
“We have zero tolerance for debt collectors who use illegal and unconscionable tactics to coerce payment, such as threatening jail time,” said Attorney General Underwood. “My office is committed to stopping these fraudulent schemes and preventing scam artists from taking advantage of consumers.”
The New York Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission alleged that the defendants misrepresented themselves to consumers as attorneys or officials working for law enforcement agencies and the court system. The defendants threatened consumers by falsely telling them they would face felony charges and be placed in jail if their debts were not paid. Defendants also failed to provide information about the supposed debts within five days of a collection call, as required by law, and illegally added unauthorized amounts to consumers’ debts.
The stipulated court order bans the defendants from participating in any debt collection activities – including advertising, marketing, promoting, selling, or buying any debt or information regarding a consumer relating to a debt. The defendants are also prohibited from misrepresenting material facts relating to financial-related products and services, profiting from customers’ personal information they collected, and must destroy all consumer information in their possession.
The order requires Gregory MacKinnon and Vantage Point Services, LLC to pay $22,534,919 and Angela Burdorf and Payment Management Solutions, Inc. to pay $4,423,795 in restitution and damages. The payment required by Joseph Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions, Inc. will be suspended due to those defendants’ inability to pay. If these defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the full judgment will become due immediately.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd in the Buffalo Regional Office, with assistance from Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis, Supervising Investigator Ken Peters, and Investigator Jennifer Hill. The Buffalo Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Michael Russo. The division of Regional Affairs is led by Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Gary Brown.