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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty To Running A Fraudulent Debt Collection Scheme

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Shawn Sylvia, 35, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant organized a scheme fraudulently to collect on non-existent debts and over-collect on debts that had been paid-in-full. Sylvia, or other individuals he managed, contacted eight victims via telephone purporting to be from organizations which included: American Mutual Holdings (AMH); Check Systems, LLC; Interstate Recovery Solutions; Apex Resolution Group; Interstate Check Registry; Miller and Flemming and Associates (MFA); Pasquale and Associates LLC; Checking Solutions; or Aries Resolution Group.

The defendant and others used strong-arm tactics including threats of arrest, jail, and lawsuits to convince victims to make payments toward what they were told were outstanding debts. Victims were directed to transfer money via MoneyGram and Western Union and to wire funds into bank accounts controlled by the defendant or his associates. Merchant accounts were established with two merchant processing companies in order to process credit card payments made by victims. In creating those merchant accounts, Sylvia and others made false representations to the payment processing companies claiming that the business entities they operated were engaging in legal services, investment services, and software sales. The payment processing companies suffered losses as a result of chargebacks of payments as a result of unauthorized and fraudulent charges. 

Between May 2013 and August 2017, Sylvia and his associates fraudulently obtained a total of $342,303.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 3, 2017, at 12:30 before Judge Arcara.

Updated November 24, 2017