Father, Son Take Down 450 Victims in Debt Relief Scam
A father and son duo from Ohio, whose credit card debt relief scheme caused consumers to lose more than $2 million, have been sentenced to the maximum federal prison terms offered as part of their plea bargain, The Columbus Dispatch reports (â€śFather, Son Get Prison Time for Roles in Debt-Relief Scam,â€ť Feb. 28, 2009).
A judge ruled that Chad Wickline, who founded a credit card debt relief company that marketed its services over the Internet, defrauded consumers by claiming that his company, Liberty Resources, could offer a â€ś100 percent legalâ€ť strategy to eliminate credit card debts using a loophole in banking laws.
Wickline and his father, who got involved in the scheme â€śout of a fatherâ€™s love for his son,â€ť collected fees of a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars from more than 450 people. Thinking their debts were eliminated, many Liberty Resources customers stopped making payments on their credit cards and were later sued by their credit card companies. As a result of the scheme, some Liberty Resources customers had to file for bankruptcy and many experienced huge drops in their credit scores.
â€śMany of these victims will never recover,â€ť said U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, who sentenced the two men to prison.
Despite Wickline’s claims that he started his business with â€śthe best of intentions,â€ť both he and his father each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, for which the elder Wickline will serve 18 months in prison. Wickline also pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and will serve 30 months for both charges.
Both guilty parties are being required to pay restitution, totaling $388,056 for Wickline and $228,958 for his father, along with federal income taxes plus interest and penalties on the money they received between 2002 and 2006 when the debt relief fraud took place.
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