FBI New York
FBI New York Press Office
(212) 384-2100
November 18, 2014

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery on Williams, Scott, & Associates Debt Collection Scam

The following remarks were prepared for delivery by FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel on the Williams, Scott, & Associates debt collection scam:

Good afternoon.

The defendants charged today operated and worked at Williams, Scott, & Associates. Better known to debtors as Warrant Services Association or WSA, the company conducted the ultimate shakedown using all of their creativity to cheat, lie, and mislead—all in the name of collection. This scheme took advantage of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens from all 50 states, including right here in New York City.

There was no warrant squad. They did not work for the government. They couldn’t suspend your licensee or mine and certainly not their unwitting victims. And no, they didn’t have any friends at the FBI.

This was nothing but a scam of total fabrication in order to coerce thousands into paying debts—some real and many others made up.

The defendants were often bullies with bogus badges.

Some of the highlights of the lies include:

  • They claimed, falsely, to be affiliated with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals.
  • WSA claimed to work closely with a federal task force that didn’t even exist.
  • They made up their own legal lingo that seemed to be as creative as the most colorful crooks’.
  • WSA recorded their calls and had detailed scripts for nearly every potential interaction that clearly laid out their scheme. Much of that information has been used against them and is included in the complaint unsealed today.
  • One woman was eight months pregnant and pleaded for lenience. One defendant responded, “I don’t care if you’re nine months pregnant.”
  • Another man was threatened with losing his license if he didn’t pay immediately, despite the fact that he was unemployed and undergoing hip surgery that same day.
  • When WSA felt their gig was up, the owner John Williams shut the business down and re-opened it under a new name. The only problem was, nothing had changed. The same employees and the same tricks.
  • In reality, they’d tell victims whatever they thought they needed to hear in order to get paid.

I want to thank United States Attorney Preet Bharara, who has been an invaluable partner in bringing these cases; Deputy United States Attorney Richard Zabel; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys is Daniel Tehrani and Jonathan Cohen.

Today is the result of hundreds of hours of work by a diligent team of FBI agents, reviewing hundreds of complaints, recordings, and conducing dozens of interviews. I’d like to thank Brian Comisky, Kurt Dirker, and their supervisor Darrin Kibel.

- Related press release: Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director Announce Charges and Arrests in Multi-Million-Dollar Debt Collection Scam That Targeted More Than 6,000 Victims in All 50 States