In what is becoming a bit of a trend in the closing days of 2012, the Justice Department announced Thursday that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis brought formal bank, mail, and wire fraud charges this week against the owner of a debt collection agency that has been in legal trouble for years.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that on December 18, Khemall Jokhoo was charged with 11 counts of bank fraud, 9 counts of mail fraud, 3 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of false impersonation of an officer or employee of the United States.
According to the indictment, Jokhoo executed a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from individuals and financial institutions.
From February 2002 until June 30, 2009, Jokhoo was legally registered as a debt collector with the State of Minnesota as the founder, owner, and sole employee of First Financial Services, Inc., which also held a Minnesota collection agency license until November 3, 2009, when it was revoked by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Two years later, the state fined Jokhoo and the company $100,000 for various violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and operating without a license. At some point after his licenses were revoked, he started running a scam rogue debt collection agency.
The indictment states that Jokhoo, utilizing the various resources available to debt collectors, gathered information regarding individuals including dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, employment and financial information. Jokhoo purportedly used that information both in direct communications with those individuals and with communications with financial institutions and an online peer-to-peer lending company. Jokhoo allegedly contacted victims and falsely told them they had past due debts that they owed him. Jokhoo also sometimes made threats against the victims, placed multiple calls to the victims at unreasonable hours of the day, and contacted the victims’ families or employers as a way to induce payments from the victims. The indictment also alleges that Jokhoo fraudulently and falsely posed as the victims in communications with the financial institutions during which he would request the issuance of checks payable to First Financial. He also purportedly used the identification of another person in an online application with a peer-to-peer lending company in an attempt to fraudulently obtain money from individual investors.
If convicted, Jokhoo faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. In addition, he faces a potential penalty of two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft and a maximum penalty of three years in prison for one count of false personation of an officer or employee of the United States. All sentences are ultimately determined by a federal district court judge.