The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York this month brought criminal charges against Williams Scott & Associates LLC and seven of its employees for allegedly engaging in illegal practices to collect more than $4 million from 6,000 victims across the country.

The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud followed a civil suit earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission against the Georgia-based company, also known as Warrant Services Association.

Prosecutors alleged that the company and its employees convinced people to pay on sometimes fake debts by claiming to be affiliated with government or law enforcement agencies.  According to investigators, employees of the company, claiming to be detectives or investigators operating with the Department of Justice, Department of State, or the U.S. Marshals Service, would sometimes threaten to have their victims arrested if they did not pay immediately.

Citing other actions by the CFPB and FTC, prosecutors said the criminal case was part of a trend by enforcement bodies to crack down on illegal debt collection practices.