Supervisor Of Fraudulent Debt Collection Company Pleads Guilty For His Role In Conspiracy To Defraud Victims Throughout The United States
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ronald Shane Hough, 50, of Mt. Holly, N.C. pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in a fraudulent debt collection scheme operating out of Mecklenburg County, announced R. Andrew Murray, United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Division, joins the U.S. Attorney’s Office in making today’s announcement.
Hough appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler and admitted he was a collections manager for Direct Processing LLC (Direct Processing), a fraudulent debt collection company. According to documents filed in connection with the guilty plea, while working there, Hough and others defrauded victims by using fraudulent misrepresentations and threatening and abusive tactics to induce victims to pay money they purportedly owed. The fraudulent tactics included using fictitious company names in communications with victims and falsely representing that there was pending litigation or charges against victims. The filed criminal bill of information states that, between January 2013 and July 2014, Hough and others at Direct Processing defrauded thousands of individuals throughout the United States of between $550,000 and $1,000,000.
“Hough is a financial predator who harassed, bullied and tricked victims into paying off debts that, in many instances, were not owed. The victims targeted by the scheme, some of whom were elderly, were forced to pay off debts, many times fictitious, just to get the harassing calls to stop. Protecting Americans from financial exploitation is a priority for this office and we will continue to go after fraudulent debt collection companies that use threats and lies to force victims into submitting to demands for money,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.
Hough pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The maximum prison term for the charge is five years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Miller, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of the prosecution.