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Operator Of Fraudulent Debt Collection Scheme Penalized

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The Federal Trade Commission has banned a Buffalo debt collector, who operated a fraudulent scheme, from the debt collection business and from misleading consumers about any financial products.

FTC took the punitive action against Robert Heidenreich after he settled claims by the Commission and New York Attorney General that he and the companies he controlled lied to consumers about how much debt they owed and used illegal scare tactics to collect it.

Heidenreich was also fined $1.7 million, but the judgment is partially suspended due to his inability to pay. He will be required to surrender $30,000 to the FTC, and if he were later found to have misrepresented his financial condition, the full amount would be due.

The settlement stems from a complaint filed by the FTC and New York Attorney General in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in October 2018.

Robert Heidenreich ran the scheme from Buffalo in New York since at least 2014, the complaint says. He used employees of his debt collection companies to impersonate as law enforcement officials and through repeated phone calls tricked customers into paying more money than they owed.

Pretending to be attorneys or process servers, the staff threatened customers saying that they would be arrested if they didn't pay the requested amount of money.

In addition to settling their claims against Heidenreich, the FTC and New York Attorney General filed a motion for a default judgment with the court against the case's remaining defendants, 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.

The court entered the default judgment order on February 7.

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