Attorneys, including bankruptcy attorneys, often hear the same tired refrain from clients, “I don’t owe that debt!” Often the individual is mistaken, because most creditors do not pursue collection actions for debts that do not exist. However, for every general rule there seems to be an exception. In this case the exception is Kirit Patel, who formed an elaborate scheme to harass and coerce innocent people into paying debts that simply didn’t exist.
On August 23, 2012, Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, announced federal charges had been filed against Patel, 68, of Tracy California. Patel is charged with 21 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with a fraudulent debt collection scheme. If convicted, Patel faces a maximum criminal penalty of 20 years in prison for each offense, or a $250,000 fine, or both.
According to the indictment, Patel participated in a scheme to collect online payday loans that did not exist. Patel and his front company, “Broadway Global Master,” maintained a call center in India. From there operators would impersonate law enforcement officers and falsely claim that arrest warrants had been issued or that United States government agencies were pursuing collection actions against the victims. All of this was intended to coerce payment from individuals for the phony debts. According to the US Attorney press release, Patel was successful in obtaining more than $5 million in payments for obligations that were not owed.
If you are being harassed for a debt, legitimate or illegitimate, seek professional assistance and protect your rights. The debt collection industry is widely regulated and there are many consumer protections available. If you have legitimate debts that you cannot afford to pay, federal bankruptcy protection is the surest and quickest way to stop creditor harassment, including lawsuits, garnishments, and phone calls. Contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney today from a free initial consultation and see how the federal law can help you.