BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission have obtained an order halting a debt collection operation that allegedly violated New York State and federal law. The lawsuit names Joseph Bella III and Luis Shaw, of Buffalo, and Diana Bella, of Florida, and nine interrelated companies.
The debt collectors are accused of committing check fraud, threatening customers with arrest, imprisonment, wage garnishments and civil suits.
The court order stops the illegal conduct, freezes the operation’s assets and appoints a temporary receiver to take over the defendants’ business.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office says the collectors bought debts and collected them, most often from payday loans. Schneiderman’s Office says the operation went by various names, including National Check Registry, according to the complaint, and eCapital Services, LLC, to evade detection after Joseph Bella signed an agreement with state authorities in October 2013 that prohibited him and his companies from violating debt collection laws.
The Attorney General’s Office says the scheme was operated since at least February 2010. In addition to the individuals named above, the complaint names as defendants National Check Registry, LLC; Check Systems, LLC; American Mutual Holdings, Inc.; Goldberg Maxwell, LLC; Morgan Jackson, LLC; Mullins & Kane, LLC; Buffalo Staffing, Inc., and eCapital, LLC.