Federal prosecutors are seeking to seize hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Concord, N.C.-based debt collection company accused of using unfair and fraudulent practices.
Berkeley Hughes and Associates LLC, located near Charlotte, N.C., is under investigation for the alleged fraud scheme that began in 2011,
according to a federal court complaint filed Tuesday. The forfeiture complaint accuses the company of making up debts and threatening consumers.The complaint lists Cedric Demon Clark and other unnamed employees as being involved in the scheme. The business is owned by Clark, who previously operated other debt collection companies under the names Card Processing Services LLC and Capital Solutions Agency LLC. Both of those companies are no longer in business.Berkeley Hughes’ employees allegedly inflated debts as much as 500%, collected on accounts that were already paid and tried to represent themselves as law enforcement agents, according to prosecutors. Documents further allege the employees threatened debtors to make payments.The Better Business Bureau office in Charlotte, N.C. recently put Berkely Hughes on its Dirty Dozen list with an "F" ranking."We were getting thousands of calls about this company which just showed the volume of calls they were making," said Tom Bartholomy, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau’s regional office.
The complaints tapered after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the business in May but began resurfacing in recent weeks.
According to the complaint, agents seized approximately $5,720 in cash from Clark’s home during the raid. On the same day, agents seized Clark's 2006 Sea Ray 320 Sundancer boat.
The complaint states that Clark collected millions of dollars from his collection businesses that he laundered through at least four bank accounts. Calls to the business seeking comment were not immediately returned.