A debt collector from Lonsdale, Minn. has been indicted for bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis.
Khemall "Kenny" Jokhoo, 34, whose aliases include Kevin Smith, Kevin Day and Mike Lee, ran a one-man collection agency called First Financial Services from 2002 until November 2009, when the Minnesota Department of Commerce revoked its license for unfair collection practices.
Federal investigators charged Jokhoo with using his access to credit bureaus and consumer databases to steal identities and defraud financial institutions across the U.S. He was charged with 11 counts of bank fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and 10 counts of aggravated identity theft.
The indictment states that Jokhoo ran a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from individuals and financial institutions. He allegedly used the various resources available to debt collectors to gather information regarding individuals, including dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, employment and financial information.
He allegedly contacted victims and falsely told them they had past due debts that they owed him. He also would sometimes make 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.
If convicted, Jokhoo faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. He also faces up to two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft.
Jokhoo was stripped of his collection and real estate licenses by the Department of Commerce, and fined $100,000 in May 2011 for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Allegations about Jokhoo's aggressive collection tactics originally surfaced in October 2007 when Eugene R. Myers of Janesville, Wis., sued him and his employer in federal court.
Myers said that Jokhoo had threatened to embarrass him by having him arrested and by serving him with court papers at the church where he worked. The defendants denied wrongdoing and quickly settled the case.
The complaints continued. Edwin Galestian of La Crescenta, Calif., said he reported Jokhoo to the police for unrelenting harassment. He said Jokhoo worked through a credit bureau to change Galestian's mailing address to Minnesota, though he's never been in the state.
The judge hearing Jokhoo's licensing case found that Jokhoo or someone working with him had tricked Galestian's bank into sending him a $40,000 check, that Galestian's signature had been forged and the check deposited in an account under Jokhoo's control.
The signature on the check bore a strong resemblance to Jokhoo's writing, the judge noted.
The judge found that Jokhoo misrepresented himself as an attorney and had threatened to have Jill and Keith Diffey of Elk Grove, Calif., arrested. The judge also found that Jokhoo had tricked the couple's bank into wiring his company more than $5,100 and caused their credit card company to transfer $3,900 to his firm's bank account without their approval.