Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is trying to shut down a debt-collection agency that he claims uses sexual harassment and threats while impersonating cops to exact payments.
Cuomo filed a lawsuit this morning against 13 debt collection companies with separate names operated under the Benning-Smith Group. Cuomo says they are violating state and federal laws.
More than 850 consumers sent complaints to the attorney general's office, alleging physical, sexual and harassing tactics were used in an attempt to collect debts that in many cases, the victims didn't even owe, according to the Buffalo BizJournal.
One collector repeated the name of a consumer's daughter and described various sexual attacks he would commit against her unless the debt was paid, Cuomo said today. He says other collectors called consumers drunks, deadbeats and in one case a low-life piece of trash.
“This company made lies, threats and abuse their calling cards in their efforts to manipulate and take advantage of consumers already facing tough economic times,” Cuomo said in a statement. “They did everything they could to demean and humiliate their targets, stooping so low as to sexually harass and verbally abuse individuals nationwide.”
The operators didn't immediately respond to a request for comment left at one of companies, Brady & Caruso in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst.
Cuomo's lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court today, is one component of a larger probe by his office into illegal debt collection practices.The attorney general also set up a Web site to explain consumer rights.