Debt collector used schemes in long-running scam

Posted at 2:32 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 14:32:27-05

The owner of a local debt collection agency is accused of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from thousands of victims through threats and intimidation.

Prosecutors say Alan Ceccarelli owned and managed a debt collection business that went by multiple names, including:

  • G&B Check Services
  • Check & Arbitration Services
  • Dudley & Associates
  • National Check Services
  • Regional Mediation
  • Regional ACH Services
  • Franklin & Ruggiero
  • ACH Regional Debt & Recovery Services

And Ceccarelli, himself, went by multiple names, according to prosectors, including:

  • Steve Jantrowski
  • Daniel Hamilton
  • Scott Richmond
  • Seth Galbert
  • Matthew Pacifico
  • Joshua Gable
  • Raymond Foy
  • Robert Header
  • Kyle Thill
  • William Starnes
  • Robert Laroski
  • Andre Spencer
  • Sean Wagoner

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says between January 2013 and January 2016, Ceccarelli collected over a million dollars through a variety of schemes, including:

  • Saying his company was affiliated with local government and law enforcement agencies
  • Claiming he victims had committed criminal acts, and if they did not pay the debt immediately, warrants or other process would be issued, at which point they would be arrested or summoned to court
  • Purporting the company was a law firm or mediation firm and/or that the company's employees were working with lawyers, a law firm, mediators, or arbitrators
  • Stating a civil lawsuit would be filed, or was pending, against the victims for failing to pay their debts
  • Saying the caller was physically located in the vicinity of the victim’s home or place of business, and would be coming to the home or office imminently to serve the victim with process if the victim did not immediately make payment arrangements

To make the threats more convincing, prosecutors say Ceccarelli used a technique known as spoofing so it would appear the victims were being called by a local police department, government office or attorney’s office.

Prosecutors say Ceccarelli also collected debts his company didn’t own and didn’t have a right to collect, so when a victim paid it would not satisfy the debt.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Ceccarelli also used the spoofing technique to prey on those who filed bankruptcy, calling from what appeared to be their bankruptcy attorney’s number and telling victims:

  • Claiming the caller was a representative of the office of the victim’s bankruptcy attorney or an associate of that attorney
  • Saying the victim had an outstanding debt which had not been included in their bankruptcy filing and as a result, the victim would be subject to criminal charges and/or have a warrant issued for his or her arrest if they did not pay the debt or make arrangements to pay the debt immediately
  • Stating the victim could satisfy the outstanding debt by making an immediate payment in accordance with the instructions given

And finally, prosecutors say Ceccarelli distributed alprazolam and buprenorphine, two controlled substances.

He’s charged with 41 counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and distribution of alprazolam and buprenorphine.

Ceccarelli could face 30 years in prison if convicted.