Debt relief company receives first criminal sentencing from CFPB referral

by MPA25 Nov 2014
The owner of a New York debt relief company was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a fraud scheme, marking the first criminal sentencing from a Consumer FInancial Protetction Bureau (CFPB) referral.  Authorities said the multimillion-dollar scheme victimized more than 1,200 financially struggling people across the country.
Mission Settlement Agency gave false hopes of relief from credit card companies and banks to customers. The committed crimes from Michael Levitis' company resulted in marred credit reports, foreclosure and sometimes bankruptcy for clients who were already drowning in debt, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said at a hearing in Manhattan, according to Bloomberg. "The financial harm and emotional damage the defendant caused will continue for years to come," he added.

For nearly five years, Levitis, along with Denis Kurlyand, Boris Shulman, Manuel Cruz, Felix Lemberskiy, and Zakhir Shirinov, tricked people into paying Mission Settlement Agency for purported debt settlement services by lying to prospective customers about the company's ability to help settle their debts, the fees that Mission charged and Mission’s affiliation with the federal government, according to

The prosecution stemmed from the first criminal case to be born out of a CFPB action. The court has order the company to pay a fine of $4.4 million.