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The juicers and the spoofers of debt collection

The juicer

Travell Thomas of Orchard Park was the mastermind behind a $31 million scam that prosecutors described as the largest debt collection scheme ever charged. Thomas, 38, falsely inflated people's debt, a practice known as "juicing," and as a result took in more money than victims actually owed.

The spoofer

Alan Ceccarelli of Buffalo used spoofing and other deceptive practices to collect from people in debt and, sometimes, people without real debt. Spoofing is a technique that makes it appear to victims that the collector's telephone call is coming from a police department or government office.

Accused of the re-do

Joseph Ciffa operated his debt collection business in Niagara Falls and Kenmore and, according to prosecutors, became known for "re-dos" – collecting on the same debt a second time. Ciffa and five others were charged last month in a new federal prosecution.

Alleged  harassers

Douglas McKinnon and Mark Gray ran a network of Buffalo-based debt collection companies that are accused of harassing, threatening and deceiving consumers into paying debts. The two men are defendants in a civil lawsuit that claims they fraudulently took in millions of dollars.

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