HOUSTON Tonight, a KHOU 11 News I-Team investigation has led to legal action by the Federal Trade Commission.
The targets are alleged scammers, accused of conning consumers out of millions of dollars in payments of phony debts.
The companies make up a complex web, first exposed by the I-Team last November.
Victims say they were threatened with lawsuits, arrest, and even jail if they didn t pay-up.
After our report, federal investigators did their own investigation and found nearly 3,000 consumer complaints against the group of companies, so the FTC went to court and got the companies shut down.
One of those companies named in the complaint is Allied Litigation Group.
According to victims, Allied Litigation Group used a Houston phone number and claimed a bogus Houston P.O. Box address.
It s what caught the attention of the I-Team last year.
We followed the trail to an office in Cleveland, Ohio.
What the I-Team encountered was part of the FTC s court filings.
In November 2012, Defendants received some unwanted attention when a Houston-based television reporter appeared at a then-active boiler room location in Cleveland with cameras rolling.The KHOU 11 I-Team was doing a story on Houston residents who had received harassing calls from Defendants. The news team was able to track Defendants to their Cleveland premises.According to the news report, when the reporter and his camera crew entered workers stood up and filed out of the office.They also wouldn t answer questions about which company they worked for, or what they were doing.
Investigators say the network of companies, operate a shake-down debt collection operation preying on vulnerable, cash-strapped consumers.
Consumers, who say they were coerced into paying debts they didn t owe, or that the companies weren t authorized to collect, because of threats from the callers.
Along with shutting down the companies, a federal judge froze their assets in an effort to recover money for the victims.
Investigators say a review of bank records show the defendants took in more than $8 million in the last two years.