Alan Ceccarelli, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based debt collector, allegedly misled and coerced thousands of people into paying debts they possibly didn’t owe, according to a 41-count grand jury indictment that includes 30 felony counts for wire fraud and another seven for identity theft.
Ceccarelli, 30, owned a debt collection business that used several names - including Check & Arbitration Services, National Check Services, G&B Check Service, Franklin & Ruggiero and Dudley & Associates, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell. He is accused of using “collectors” who falsely posed as government and law enforcement officials or lawyers preparing to file suit against people.
Prosecutors estimate Ceccarelli illegally took in $1 million over three years. He allegedly used several aliases - including Steve Jantrowski, Daniel Hamilton, Scott Richmond and Seth Galbert, O’Donnell said.
He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. Prosecutors also are seeking the $1 million he allegedly stole in a three-year period ending in January.
The grand jury indictment claims Ceccarelli specifically used “spoofing” - involving making it appear to victims that the collector’s telephone call was coming from a police department or the office of a government official or local private attorney.
Ceccarelli’s collectors sometimes would tell people that they were calling from a location near the victim’s home or business and would be arriving there to serve the victim with court papers unless the victim made an immediate payment, prosecutors alleged. The indictment claims Ceccarelli preyed on people who had filed bankruptcy and sometimes would pose as a representative of the victim’s bankruptcy lawyer.
He was arraigned Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and was ordered detained until a hearing later in March. Thomas J. Eoannou, Ceccarelli’s attorney, could not be reached for comment. The indictment is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Buffalo Police Department.