Two Buffalo, N.Y. collectors were charged late Friday with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud after allegedly running a fraudulent collection operation for four years that brought in more than $8 million, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

Timothy E. Arent, 37, and Neil G. Wieczkowski, 41, could face decades in prison for the fraudulent collection scheme, said U. S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter in a statement. Arent also is charged with bankruptcy fraud. The mail fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and fine of $250,000.

Since September 2005, according to the complaint, the two obtained money from their victims under false pretenses, false personation and false representations. The complaint states that the victims were individuals who at one time or another owed some type of debt that had gone into collections.

Arent and Wieczkowski allegedly falsely told individuals they would be arrested for failing to respond to summonses. They allegedly told their victims that the only way they could avoid apprehension and detention was to make monetary payments, often in a matter of hours. Both men also are accused of trying to dodge the law by changing the names of their businesses as many as 18 times.

Arent and Wieczkowski appeared in U.S. District Court on Friday and a detention hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 6, at 2:00 p.m. EST.

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