Four Star Resolution, LLC's owner and CEO was sentenced to 100 months in prison in April of 2017 for coercing thousands of consumers into paying more than $31 million to settle alleged debts. Travell Thomas directed associates at his debt collection agency to:
- Inflate the balances of debts owed
- Falsely imply that the collection agency was affiliated with local government and law enforcement agencies, including the “county” and the district attorney's office
- Tell consumers that they had committed criminal acts, such as “wire fraud” or “check fraud,” and if they did not pay the debt immediately, warrants or other process would be issued, at which point they would be arrested or taken to court
- Falsely claim that consumers would have their driver's licenses suspended if they did not pay
- Tell consumers that Four Star was a law firm or mediation firm and that Four Star's employees were working with lawyers, a law firm, mediators, or arbitrators
- Falsely imply that a civil lawsuit would be filed, or was pending
These collection practices are all prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal Act passed to help protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices of debt collectors.
According to U.S. attorney, Joon H. Kim, “Thomas was the mastermind behind the largest criminal debt collection scheme ever charged.” Of the $31 million Four Star Resolution, LLC took in from its scheme, approximately $1.5 million was paid in cash to Thomas and his co-owner and co-defendant, Maurice Sessum, approximately $1.4 million was withdrawn from banks and ATMs, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were used to pay for Thomas's gambling expenses, season tickets for professional sports games, his wedding reception, and other personal expenses.
Twelve others associated with Four Star Resolution, LLC were charged and pled guilty to defrauding consumers in connection with the debt collection scheme. The company, which opened in 2009 and operated in Buffalo, New York was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31 million and was permanently enjoined from participating in any debt collection activities, advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, and selling or buying any consumer or commercial debt or any information regarding a consumer relating to a debt.
If a debt collector is harassing or abusing you in an attempt to collect on a debt, contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation consultation.