A NY Defense Lawyer Explains Debt Elimination Fraud Crimes
Debt elimination fraud generally occurs when an individual or a business makes promises to debtors that can’t be fulfilled. The scams can target people with credit card debt, tax debt, personal loan debt, or a variety of other obligations to creditors. The goal is to get debtors to turn over funds to those perpetrating the scams. The promised debt relief that consumers were supposed to receive in exchange for their money never ends up materializing.
Debt elimination fraud is taken very seriously. Depending upon the nature of the scam, federal authorities could become involved. Debt relief scams are illegal on the state level and the federal level, and both civil and criminal action could result. A New York criminal attorney with experience representing clients accused of debt elimination scams can provide assistance to those accused of wrongdoing. Call Bukh Law Firms, PLLC today to learn more.
Examples of Debt Elimination Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission offers a list of debt fraud scams that consumers are warned to be aware of. There are many different types of debt elimination scams that could trigger action by the FTC, by other federal agencies, and by state and federal law enforcement officers. Examples include:
- Payday loan repayment scams: Consumers who fall behind on payday loans are promised their payments can be eliminated. Fees are charged for this “help,” and the scam involves telling debtors that interest-free payments and principal reductions are being negotiated as part of a months-long program. Payments made by debtors are not applied to the payday loans and no debt relief occurs, despite the debtors being told their money was reducing their debt.
- Foreclosure scams: Debtors facing foreclosure or who are behind on their home mortgages are told their mortgage debt can be wiped out and their homes can be saved. Fees are collected but no payments are made on the home and no actual action is taken to stop foreclosure.
- Tax relief scams: Consumers who owe back taxes are told that a debt relief agency can get their debt forgiven or can negotiate a low repayment agreement. The scam may involve claiming a special affiliation with the government that does not exist. Fees are charged for the negotiations, no negotiation actually occurs, and the debtors do not end up with their tax debt reduced.
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- Credit card debt relief scams: Consumers are told that a deal can be made in which they pay less to creditors or have a portion of their debt forgiven. Consumers are charged fees for services or are told to pay the scam company instead of their actual creditors. In some credit card debt relief scams, bankruptcy is filed in the name of the debtor without the debtor knowing it in order to get collection calls to stop. No money is paid to creditors, and the consumers don’t get the promised relief.
- Credit counseling scams: Consumers are told that they must pay for credit counseling with the scam company before undergoing bankruptcy, even though the company is not actually authorized to provide required pre-bankruptcy counseling. Consumers may also be enticed by false promises to pay high fees for “counseling” that doesn’t actually help them to address their debt issues.
While scams take different forms, they all center around making materially misleading statements and false promises that entice debtors to pay money to the individual or company perpetrating the scam. The promised debt relief never comes through for the consumers after payments are made.
Penalties for Debt Elimination Scams
Penalties for debt elimination scams can vary depending upon the specific methods used to target consumers and the specific process used to entice consumers to give up their funds. Defendants can be charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, and state and federal fraud offenses. The penalties can sometimes add up to decades of imprisonment, especially if multiple people were scammed and defendants face indictments on multiple counts.
Penalties can often be reduced through the negotiation of a plea agreement or can be avoided entirely with the development of an effective defense strategy.
How a NY Defense Lawyer Can Help If You’re Accused of Debt Elimination Fraud
Bukh Law Firms, PLLC provides legal representation to clients facing charges for alleged involvement with debt elimination scams. If you have been accused of participating in debt elimination fraud, contact our NY defense attorneys today. We can help you decide how to respond to charges in the manner most likely to result in no consequences or minimal penalties for the serious criminal acts you’ve been accused of committing.