As a result of action by the Federal Trade Commission and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, debt collection company International Credit Recovery, Inc. (ICR), officer Richard Diorio, Jr., and manager Cynthia Powell, have agreed to a permanent ban from the debt collection industry after being charged with engaging in bogus debt collection efforts against businesses and non-profits.
The FTC and Pennsylvania alleged that ICR was a key part of a telemarketing scheme run by American Future Systems, Inc., (AFS), which also does business as Progressive Business Publications and the Center for Education and Employment Law. ICR allegedly collected on debts AFS claimed organizations such as businesses, schools, fire and police departments, and non-profits owed for book and newsletter subscriptions they did not order.
“The defendants in the case were the second half of a one-two punch that targeted small businesses, non-profits and first responders, first with bogus subscription bills and then bogus debt collection,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We’re proud to work with our partners in Pennsylvania to hold them accountable.”
“Through collaboration with our federal partners, we reached an agreement that ensures Pennsylvanians will be protected from these callous defendants that preyed on emergency-responder and non-for-profit organizations to fulfill their selfish greed,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said.
The FTC and Pennsylvania charged that, in connection with its debt collection activities, ICR contacted consumers that it knew or had reason to know did not agree to order paid subscriptions. They also charged that ICR used false or unsubstantiated representations to try to get consumers to pay, and that ICR illegally threatened consumers if they did not pay.
The court order, which was agreed to by the defendants to settle the case, permanently bans them from the debt collection industry, as well as requires them to cooperate since the case will continue against the other defendants AFS, Progressive Business Publications of New Jersey, Inc. and Edward Satell.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 3-0-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson not participating. The vote on this matter closed on March 23, 2023, prior to Commissioner Wilson’s departure from the Commission. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved the settlement.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
This matter is being handled by the FTC’s East Central Region.
Official news published at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2023/04/action-ftc-pennsylvania-leads-permanent-ban-debt-collectors-targeted-businesses-non-profits-first