Federal Agents Arrest Debt Collectors in Crackdown
Federal agents in Georgia arrested John Todd Williams, 48, founder of debt collection agency Williams, Scott & Associates along with six other employees on Tuesday morning for allegedly running a $4.1 million debt collection scam that targeted more than 6,000 people across the United States.
The arrests stem from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It appears to be the first time federal authorities have taken coordinated action against debt collectors, and could be the beginning of a broader crackdown.
“We are far from finished looking at the seedy side of debt collection,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. “It affects too many people.”
Prosecutors say employees of the company would routinely bully, threaten and trick thousands of victims by falsely calling themselves a “detective” or an “investigator” for local law enforcement agencies. Typically, they would call borrowers and say they had committed a crime such as “check fraud” and that if they failed to make immediate payment, a warrant would be issued for their arrest.
The debt collectors would read from scripts to threaten people with lines such as: “Who are we? We are a government task force set up to investigate and collect info on individuals involved in Depository Account Fraud and theft by deception.”