Travell Thomas has over a half-million dollars in live poker tournament earnings and a World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring on his resume. He’s routinely taken money away from his opponents at the felt, but this week it was learned he may have been stealing from others in a less gamesmans-like fashion as well.
Filing in the Southern District of New York, US District Attorney Preet Bharara has brought charges against Thomas for allegedly operating a $31 million fraudulent debt collection business called Four Star Resolution that stole funds directly from innocent civilians, according to the indictment.
Bharara claims Thomas and 14 others “tried to trick and coerce victims” into paying an illegitimate company for debts they owed. Thomas and his cohorts allegedly made threats and false claims of being a law office while pressuring victims by saying that a failure to pay immediately would result in the issuing of arrest warrants.
Nine associates were charged, along with Thomas, with “wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a nationwide debt collection scheme that took in more than $31 million from thousands of victims across the United States.”
Guilty Pleas Please Preet
Aside from the nine associates charged in conjunction with Thomas, the Unsealing of the investigation also revealed the guilty pleas of four other employees.
“As alleged, the defendants engaged in what is believed to be the largest fraudulent debt collection scheme ever to be prosecuted, falsely threatening arrest and prosecution of countless Americans, including those who suffered from disabilities,” Bharara said in a press release.
“Thanks to the tireless work of the criminal investigators in our office, those involved in this massive debt collection scheme will no longer be able to prey on vulnerable Americans burdened by debt.”
Wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud each comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, meaning it could be 2055 before you see Thomas sitting down at a table in Las Vegas should he be prosecuted and found guilty to the fullest extent of the law.
Thomas Defends Innocence
Thomas has utilized his right to remain silent following the district attorney’s accusations, but he did speak with Credit.com last March after learning his company was being probed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
At that time, Thomas seemed to defend his actions by citing his busy workload as the reason for his failed oversight.
“I am not pretending that Four Star’s operations did not have problems,” Thomas said. “I concede that there are managers who have been deficient and whom I have not sufficiently supervised because of other business opportunities in which I was involved at the time.”
Bharara and the FTC contend Four Star personnel were employed with scripts to read to unsuspecting debtors. False documents were emailed to targeted victims with threatening language, and team members recited fictitious legal jargon.
“For example, the scripts falsely stated, among other things: ‘In the next 48 hours we will be handing the matter over to our fraud department who will work together with your local district attorneys [sic] office in attempting to resolve the matter,'” Bharara noted.
Assistant United States Attorneys Edward A. Imperatore and Jordan L. Estes will handle the upcoming prosecution.