Alan Ceccarelli tricked and coerced thousands of victims into paying debts that may or may not have been owed, prosecutors said Friday.
They also estimate he took in $1 million doing it over three years.
In a 41-count indictment, Ceccarelli is accused of using “collectors” who falsely posed as government and law enforcement officials or lawyers preparing to file suit against the individual.
The 30-year-old Buffalo man also is charged with collecting debts that his companies did not own or have the right to collect.
His debt collection business was known by multiple names, including G&B Check Services, Check & Arbitration Services, Dudley & Associates, National Check Services and Franklin & Ruggiero, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell.
Ceccarelli also used a number of aliases, including Steve Jantrowski, Daniel Hamilton, Scott Richmond and Seth Galbert, O’Donnell said.
Of the 41 felony counts against Ceccarelli, 30 are for wire fraud and seven are for identity theft. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. Prosecutors are also seeking the $1 million they claim he took in over the three-year period ending in January.
The grand jury indictment claims Ceccarelli used “spoofing,” a collection technique that makes it appear to victims that the collector’s telephone call originated from a police department or the office of a government official or local private attorney.
In some instances, Ceccarelli’s collectors would tell people that they were calling from a location near the victim’s home or business and would be arriving there to serve the victim with court papers unless the victim made an immediate payment, prosecutors said.
The indictment also claims Ceccarelli preyed on individuals who had filed bankruptcy and sometimes would pose as a representative of the victim’s bankruptcy lawyer.
He was arraigned Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and was ordered detained until a hearing later this month.
Thomas J. Eoannou, Ceccarelli’s defense lawyer, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Ceccarelli’s indictment is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Buffalo Police.