On August 24, the United States District Court for the Western District of New York entered a Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment against the last of a group of defendants who engaged in banned debt collection practices. The defendant, Anthony Coppola, is now barred from debt collection activities, misrepresenting material facts of any financial-related product or service, including credit repair services, or advertising false credit terms. The Court’s Order also prohibits him from using or disclosing consumers’ personal information allowing access to their financial accounts, requires the proper disposal of that information, and imposes a $9.39 million judgment. Coppola will be spared from having to satisfy the monetary judgment, however, given his inability to pay.
The settlement stems from a 2015 law enforcement sweep known as “Messaging for Money.” Coppola, along with several other co-defendants, engaged in a debt collection scheme whereby they threatened to arrest or sue consumers, and harassed their friends, families, and employers. Some of their tactics included charging made-up fees, sending deceptive text messages claiming that non-existent payments were declined, and failing to identify themselves as debt collectors. The other defendants settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2016, with one agreeing to pay $4.4 million – the amount consumers lost – to resolve the charges.