No, this isn’t another Fraudclosure case — it is about an action by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office against a debt collection company that used bogus “hearings” and fake “courtroom” in an attempt to mislead or fool consumers into believing they were in court:
“Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that a consumer protection lawsuit has been filed against an Erie debt collection company accused of using deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers – including the use of bogus “hearings” allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom.
Corbett said the civil lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection against Unicredit America Inc., with corporate and business offices located at 1537 West 39th St., Erie, also identified as the “Unicredit Debt Resolution Center.”
“This is an unconscionable attempt to use fake court proceedings to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables to Unicredit without following lawful procedures for debt collection,” Corbett said. “Consumers also allegedly received dubious ‘hearing notices’ and letters – often hand-delivered by individuals who appear to be Sheriff Deputies – which implied they would be taken into custody by the Sheriff if they failed to appear at the phony court for ‘hearings’ or ‘depositions’.
According to the lawsuit, fictitious court proceedings were used to intimidate consumers into providing access to bank accounts, making immediate payments or surrendering vehicle titles and other assets – sometimes dispatching Unicredit employees to consumers’ homes in order to retrieve documents or have consumers sign payment agreements.
Corbett said Unicredit allegedly used civil subpoenas to summon consumers to an office in Erie, which included an area referred to by Unicredit employees as “the courtroom.”
The fake courtroom allegedly contained furniture and decorations similar to those used in actual court offices, including a raised “bench” area where a judge would be seated; two tables and chairs in front of the “bench” for attorneys and defendants; a simulated witness stand; seating for spectators; and legal books on bookshelves. During some proceedings, an individual dressed in black was seated where observers would expect to see a judge.”
The Attorney General’s Office is asking a judge to freeze the company’s assets and order it to cease operations.
Once again, I find myself pining away for jail time for the people involved . . .
Erie debt collection company sued; accused of using bogus “hearings” and fake “courtroom” to collect from consumers
Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
October 29, 2010