Attorney General James Shuts Down Illegal Debt Collection Scheme
BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a settlement banning Buffalo-based debt collector Robert Heidenreich, also known as “Bobby Rich,” from the debt collection industry for misleading consumers on how much money they owed and using illegal tactics to collect the inflated debt. In addition to the ban, the settlement also includes a suspended judgment of $1.7 million.
The New York Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that Heidenreich, and collectors working for him, violated the law by demanding and collecting more money from consumers than owed. In the debt collection industry, this practice of trying to collect more than a consumer’s balance in full is known as “overbiffing.” The settlement also alleged that collectors employed by Heidenreich pretended to be law enforcement personnel, attorneys, and process servers to collect on inflated debts by falsely threatening consumers with arrest and other legal actions.
“We will not sit idly by as businesses extort payment from consumers by using illegal, deceitful tactics,” said Attorney General James. “Collecting on money that consumers do not owe, and doing so using false threats of arrest and other unscrupulous means, is inexcusable and unlawful. My office is committed to protecting New Yorkers from illicit scams, and I thank the FTC for their partnership on this case.”
The lawsuit was filed in October 2018 and involves defendants Robert Heidenreich and six corporations allegedly under his control: Campbell Capital LLC; Kahl, Heidenreich, and Nemmer LLC; Urban, Heidenreich, Melendez, and Associates, LLC; J & V Receivables LLC; Rich Financial LLC; and BCH & Associates Ltd. As part of the settlement, the judgment against Heidenreich is partially suspended to $30,000 due to his inability to pay the amount in full. A default judgment was entered against the six corporations in the case. All of the funds from the settlement will go towards consumer restitution.
This case was 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, Investigator Jennifer Hill, and Supervising Investigator Ken Peters. The Division of Regional Affairs is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber, under the oversight of First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.