On September 21, 2018, the FTC announced that the operators of an illegal debt collection scheme have agreed to be permanently banned from the debt collection business in order to settle FTC charges that they falsely threatened to have people arrested if their debts were not paid.
The defendants, Gregory MacKinnon, Angela Burdorf, Vantage Point Services LLC and Payment Management Solutions, and Joseph Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions Inc., falsely claimed consumers would spend up to 120 days in jail or pay thousands of dollars in bail, according to a complaint filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office.
According to the complaint, the defendants also failed to provide information about their identities during phone calls, or information about the supposed debt within five days of a call, as required by law, and illegally added unauthorized amounts to consumer’s debts.
The settlement orders also prohibit these defendants from misrepresenting material facts about financial-related products and services, profiting from customers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of such information properly.
The orders impose a judgment of $22.5 million against Gregory MacKinnon, Vantage Point Services LLC, Joseph Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions, Inc. The orders impose a judgment of $4.4 million against Angela Burdorf and Payment Management Solutions Inc. The judgment against Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions will be suspended due to their inability to pay. The full judgment against Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The FTC vote approving the proposed stipulated order against Gregory MacKinnon, Angela Burdorf, Vantage Point Services and Payment Management Solutions was 5-0. The FTC vote approving the proposed stipulated order against Ciffa and Bonified Payment Solutions was 5-0. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York entered the orders on September 17, 2018, and July 16, 2018, respectively.