Attorney General James Moves to Shut Down Illegal Debt Collecting Scheme

BUFFALO – Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to put an end to a flagrant debt collecting scheme based out of Buffalo, New York. The scheme, led by Kenneth Thomas and carried out by at least six other persons and entities, consisted of contacting consumers using extremely deceptive and abusive tactics to collect debts. Using a call spoofing service, the respondents disguised their phone numbers with contact information associated with the consumer’s local county court house or sheriff’s office. While impersonating these government officials, the debt collectors allegedly threatened consumers with pick-up orders, bench warrants, license suspensions, and other serious fraudulent threats. They also made these threats to consumers’ friends, family members, and employers.

“Those who use illegal and unconscionable tactics to cheat consumers out of their hard-earned money will face the full weight of my office,” said Attorney General James. “Not only did the respondents allegedly impersonate attorneys and officers of the court, but they intimidated and threatened consumers with extreme legal repercussions — like arrest or license suspension — for not complying with their predatory practices. I am committed to protecting consumers and putting a stop to these fraudulent and exploitative schemes.” 

A temporary restraining order was granted by Hon. Catherine Nugent Panepinto, in Erie County State Supreme Court, enjoining Kenneth Thomas, Wesley Newman, and their business entity, Midway Resolution Services LLC a/k/a Midway Resolution Group a/k/a Greenland Recovery Group, as well as Johnfredrick Daniels, Jasmine Ashley Daniels, and their business entity, Jax Management Company LLC, from engaging in debt collection and related practices such as payment processing and placing debts for collection. The corporate respondents’ bank accounts were frozen and all respondents are prohibited from destroying business records.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) seeks to permanently ban respondents from the debt collection industry. The OAG alleges that respondents violated Executive Law 63(12), General Business Law Articles 22-A and 29-H as well as, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (TICA). The OAG seeks a full accounting of all named business entities as well as restitution, disgorgement, damages, civil penalties, and costs that might be considered necessary as relief for the egregious conduct.

Thomas has engaged in illegal debt collection schemes in the past. Thomas breached a previously signed Assurance of Discontinuance with the OAG for violations of the FDCPA used in this lawsuit. This case follows suit in a long line of actions taken by Attorney General James to seek justice on behalf of consumers in New York state. The OAG successfully halted illegal debt collection operations orchestrated by Thomas’ uncles’, Douglas and Greg MacKinnon’s, illegal debt-collecting ring. More recently, OAG filed a joint lawsuit with the Consumer Financial Protection Board to shut down another debt collection ring, also originating in Buffalo. Additionally, OAG also took down Freedom Debt Relief, a debt settlement company with a track record of employing deceptive tactics against consumers.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Michael Russo with assistance from Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis, as well as Investigators Jennifer Terranova, Shawn McCormick, and Erica Law under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Ken Peters. The Division of Regional Affairs is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and falls under the supervision of First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.