Debt Collection Agencies Allegedly Demanded More Money than Consumers Owed; Pretend to Be Law Enforcement or Attorneys.
New York, NY - November 1, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a lawsuit jointly filed with the Federal Trade Commission against a Buffalo debt collection operation run by Robert Heidenreich for allegedly engaging in deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. A federal court granted a temporary restraining order freezing the operations’ assets, ordered the defendants to comply with the law, and appointed a receiver to take over the corporate entities at the request of the Attorney General’s office and the FTC.
The defendants in the case are Robert Heidenreich and six corporations he controls: Campbell Capital LLC; Kahl, Heidenreich, and Nemmer, LLC; Urban, Heidenreich, Melendez, and Associates, LLC; J & V Receivables, LLC; Rich Financial, LLC; and BCH & Associates Ltd.
“Using false information and threats to coerce New Yorkers out of money they do not owe is inexcusable – and unlawful,” said Attorney General Underwood. “We’ll continue to work with our partners in government to take on unscrupulous fraudsters who seek to scam consumers.”
The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the law by demanding and receiving more money from consumers than actually owed. This practice of trying to collect more than a consumer’s balance in full is known in the debt collection industry as “overbiffing.” In numerous instances, according to the complaint, consumers agreed to pay more than the defendants’ own records indicate consumers owed.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants’ collectors pretend to be law enforcement personnel and threaten consumers with arrest unless they make a payment. The collectors also pretend to be attorneys or process servers to try to collect alleged debts by falsely claiming that lawsuits had been filed against consumers. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated New York Executive Law and General Business Law, the FTC Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Michael Russo of the Buffalo Regional Office, with assistance from Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis, Investigators Jennifer Hill and Erica Law, and Supervising Investigator Ken Peters. The division of Regional Affairs is led by Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Gary Brown.