More than a year after a collection operation settled charges of extorting payments, the Federal Trade Commission is mailing nearly 95,000 checks totaling approximately $4 million to consumers who lost money in the scam.

Asset Capital and Management Group, using various names, allegedly illegally took payments from consumers for credit card debt by using false threats. The settlement reached in May 2014 banned the defendants from the debt collection industry. 

A federal court in Los Angeles halted the operation in 2013. The court at that time froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to take charge of the defendants’ business.

The FTC alleged that the defendants were part of an elaborate collection scheme operating from locations in Orange and Riverside counties in California, and that they used various business names including Western Performance Group, as well as phony names, which they changed frequently to avoid law enforcement scrutiny. 

The defendants allegedly use an assortment of deceptive and abusive tactics in collecting on the credit card debt, according to the FTC, and committed several violations of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FTC alleged that the defendants called consumers and their employers, colleagues and family members posing as process servers or law office employees, and claimed they were seeking to deliver legal papers that purportedly related to a lawsuit. 

In some cases, the defendants threatened that consumers would be arrested if they did not respond to the calls. But the collectors were not process servers or law office employees, and the defendants did not file lawsuits against the consumers.

Consumers who receive the checks from the FTC’s refund administrator for this matter, Analytics Consulting LLC, should deposit or cash them within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be cashed.

Besides the monetary judgments and the bans on collecting debt, the settlement prohibit them from misrepresenting any relevant fact in connection with promoting or selling credit repair, debt relief, mortgage assistance relief or lending services.

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