Debt collector barred in Arizona after suit alleges harassing, threatening consumers

Posted at 8:48 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 11:48:23-04

PHOENIX — An owner of multiple Arizona debt collection businesses accused of impersonating government agencies, making threats and collecting money without authorization has been permanently barred from working in the industry in the state and must pay $1.6 million in restitution under the terms of a consent judgment.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that Mark Anthony Smith, a Valley resident who owns and manages debt collection businesses CMS Financial Group, John Lee Group & Associates and TD Financial Solutions Group AZ. Smith’s wife Deborah Ann Butler is also named as a defendant in the judgment.

The consent judgment is the result of a lawsuit brought in 2020 charging that Smith’s businesses deceived and threatened consumers nationwide to convince them to pay debts that they had no authority to collect.

The lawsuit said Smith’s employees impersonated law enforcement officers, government officials, process servers, and law firm personnel in calls made to consumers, telling them they must respond or face court action. Brnovich’s office provided recordings of voicemails left with consumers.

Read more of this story from the Phoenix Business Journal.