The owner of a New York debt settlement company, Mission Settlement, has received a 9 year prison sentence for running a fraudulent debt collection relief scheme that would target vulnerable individuals through mail and telemarketing efforts. The fraudulent scheme has hurt and victimized about 1,200 people. The man behind all this is Michael Levitis who concocted a scheme that fooled debtors into thinking that his company would negotiate with credit card companies and banks on behalf of debtors for a low monthly fee of $49.00. In reality, Levitis and his company did little or no work, and actually caused substantial damage to debtors who waited for relief instead of seeking help from attorneys and other trustworthy sources.
In addition to the prison sentence, Levitis has been ordered by federal court Judge Gardephe of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of N.Y., to pay $2,196,522 in restitution to his victims. Levitis, who pleaded guilty in April, was also ordered to pay a fine of $4,393,044. Five of his former employees from Mission Settlement have also pled guilty and are now awaiting sentencing.
Operating out of Brooklyn from 2009-2013, Levitis and his company would send customers images of the Great Seal of the U.S. in letters and communications, claiming to be from "Reduction Plan Administrator" of the "Office of Disbursement." Neither of those entities even exists, but he played on the fear of those struggling financially and through those unscrupulous efforts, he was able to con them out of money.
This isn't the first time that Levitis has run into trouble with the law. In 2011, he was sentenced to 3 years of probation and fined $15,000 for lying to federal agents during an investigation of former NY State Senator Carl Kruger. Kruger later pled guilty to corruption charges. However, despite the emotional and financial damage he has caused, he is remorseful. At his sentencing, he has apologized to his victims and he made a promise to pay them back for his crimes.
This case is a primary example of why the attorneys at Lebedin Kofman LLP always recommend hiring an attorney in a debt defense or settlement matter.