Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Charlotte woman sent to prison for $1.9 million debt collection scheme

A Charlotte woman received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution after her conviction on a debt collection scheme.

Carissa Eugenia Brown, 35, also will be under three years of court supervision after her release from prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

From 2015 to July 2020, Brown defrauded hundreds of people in North Carolina and elsewhere in the United States, according  to court records and her sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

Brown had registered three companies in North Carolina – Accredited Recovery Solutions (aka Accredited Recovery Network); Elite Credit Adjusters (aka Elite Credit Network); and Martin Recovery Group(aka Martin Recovery) and the law office of Martin and Associates – to orchestrate the fraud, according to court records.

Brown contacted people who had been sued by creditors for their outstanding debt and falsely claimed she was authorized to collect the debt on behalf of those creditors. Brown would offer to “settle” the outstanding debt for a reduced amount, but only if the victims accepted the offer and paid the reduced amount in full, or began to make payments immediately to one of Brown’s companies, according to court records.

Brown often mailed those she contacted official-looking documents, including purported settlement agreements. People made a lump-sum payment, or several payments, to Brown and her companies, believing they were resolving their debt and outstanding court case.

Those people who paid Brown would learn she was not authorized to collect the debt and they still owed the full debt to the actual creditor, according to court records. Brown would leave voicemails and send letters from a supposed law firm to help convince people her collections were legitimate.

Other actions taken by Brown included threatening to garnish wages, seize bank accounts, or to file judgments in court against people if payment on the debt was not received, according to court records.

Hundreds of people throughout the U.S. were induced to pay Brown and her companies more than $1.9 million. Those people were then forced to pay their debts twice or face the financial consequences of failing to pay the true creditor. The $1.9 million amount refers to the amount Brown attempted to defraud, while $1.7 million was the actual loss, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brown pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in the case. She is currently in federal custody.

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