Attorney General James Shuts Down Illegal Debt Collection Businesses, Recovers $1.2 Million

Collectors Made Unlawful, False, and Deceptive
Threats to Consumers to Collect Debt

AG James Encourages New Yorkers Who Fell Victim
to These Deceptive Debt Collectors to File a Claim

BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced she is shutting down an illegal debt collection scheme operating in western New York and recovering $1.2 million in penalties and restitution for victims. An agreement with Buffalo-based debt collector Andrew Fanelli and his companies — Northwood Asset Management Group LLC, Pinnacle Asset Recovery Group LLC, and Koalaty Pay LLC — permanently bans them from any future consumer debt collection. Collectors working for Fanelli’s companies routinely used illegal tactics to collect consumer debt, including false threats of criminal action, wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, and lawsuits. 

“New Yorkers can trust that I will always stand up for our most vulnerable, especially when their wallets are at risk,” said Attorney General James. “While illegal debt collectors have used Buffalo as their hub of operations for illicit conduct for years, we are continuing to fight back and shut down these companies one by one. The unlawful behavior perpetrated by Andrew Fanelli and his companies defrauded consumers, but this agreement will end their illegal behavior, once and for all. I encourage anyone who may have fallen victim to these deceptive debt collectors to immediately file a claim with our office to recover what was unlawfully taken from them.”

Fanelli began his debt collection career collecting debts for Douglas MacKinnon, an illegal debt collection kingpin shut down by Attorney General James in 2019. His company operated as Fanelli and Associates, later changing its name to Northwood Asset Management Group. Fanelli also used another one of his companies, Pinnacle Asset Recovery, to purchase consumer debt. Call recordings obtained by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) revealed that collectors working for Fanelli routinely used deceptive and illegal threats to collect on consumer debts.

Fanelli also operated as a debt broker, selling debts to and placing debts for collection with other collectors that engaged in egregious violations of the law. For example, Fanelli placed debts with Kenneth Thomas’s company, Midway Resolution Services LLC, which defrauded and harassed consumers by using call spoofing and impersonating government officials to collect debts. Thomas and his company were sued by the OAG in September 2020 and have since been shut down and have been banned from the debt collection industry. Fanelli also operated Koalaty Pay LLC, a business that helped other illegal debt collectors obtain payment processing services.

This agreement permanently bans Fanelli and his companies from engaging in consumer debt collection, consumer debt brokering, consumer lending, debt settlement, credit repair services, and payment processing. Within six months, Fanelli is required to dissolve all of his companies.

The agreement also requires Fanelli and his companies to pay $1.2 million to the OAG in restitution and penalties.

Any consumer who was the subject of false and illegal threats by Northwood Asset Management Group may be entitled to restitution and should promptly file a complaint with the OAG’s Buffalo Regional Office

This case is being handled by Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Christopher L. Boyd, with assistance from Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis. The Buffalo Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Michael Russo and is a part of the Division of Regional Affairs. The Division of Regional Affairs is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.