Debtor Files Suit Over Collection Tactics


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Free Newsclips for Tuesday, May 31, 2005



PRESSLER & PRESSLER: Debtor Files Suit Over Collection Tactics
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Debtor Robert A. Jones is claiming that Pressler & Pressler, a law
firm that
specializes in debt collection, improperly discovered and seized his
bank
account because of information stolen by a ring accused of trafficking
in
hundreds of thousands of stolen names and Social Security numbers, The
Inside Bay Area reports.


Mr. Jones believes that the agency probably learned of his account at
Commerce Bank from information allegedly purchased from Orazio Lembo
Jr.,
the accused ringleader, according to the lawsuit he had filed in U.S.
District Court in Camden.


Hackensack police, who broke the case, have heard from other debtors
seeking
information and documents, but not Mr. Jones, Capt. Frank Lomia told
AP. He
said, "Certainly, no good can come from this criminal conspiracy. I
just see
these cases multiplying."


Attorneys for some debtors, and people who have had their pay
garnished, are
seeking to subpoena police records, Capt. Lomia said. Those records,
however, will not be released while the investigation continues, he
adds.


Capt. Lomia also reiterated that banks have not reported any money
missing
from accounts of thousands of customers whose financial information
may have
been stolen by bank employees allegedly paid by Mr. Lembo. He also
adds that
authorities have not yet determined how many of the 676,000 people
whose
names and Social Security numbers were found on computer discs seized
from
Mr. Lembo and his company had accounts at four major banks.


According to police authorities Mr. Lembo is accused of compiling
lists of
names of people who are being pursued by collection agencies and
sending
them to the bank workers to see if any were customers. The bank
workers were
paid $10 for each account they turned over to Mr. Lembo, the police
said.


Mr. Jones had the Commerce Bank account for several years, but it was
only
seized in February, said his lawyer, Philip Stephen Fuoco. The lawyers
adds
that Mr. Jones received a letter in the past week from Commerce Bank
alerting him that he was among account holders whose names werefound
on Mr.
Lembo's computers. The Jones account, holding about $2,000, went
toward
satisfying a judgment from 2003 for consumer debt, Mr. Fuoco said.


The lawsuit charges that Pressler & Pressler violated the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act by using unlawfully obtained information. It
also
seeks class action status on behalf of all people in the United States
whose
accounts allegedly were obtained by Lembo or his Hackensack-based
business,
DRL Associates.


On April 28, Mr. Lembo, seven bank employees and a state worker were
charged
in a plot to steal financial records after evidence was found on
computers
during a February search of Mr. Lembo's apartment during a separate
investigation, police said.
 
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