Debt collector admits bilking victims out of more than $1M

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A Buffalo debt collector has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he coerced thousands of victims into paying more than $1 million in debts they may or may not have owed.

Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Alan Ceccarelli hired a number of debt collectors to defraud victims across the country between January 2013 and January 2016. The collectors posed as government or law enforcement officials or lawyers preparing to file suit.

Prosecutors announced Thursday that Cecarelli pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity theft before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Wolford.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8.

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