Debt Collection Firm Accused Of Setting Up Phony Courtroom

Call it “theater of the real.” A debt collection firm is accused of setting up a fake courtroom, complete with a raised “bench” and judge in black and other decorations and furniture, to trick and holding bogus hearings to extract payment from debtors.

Men dressed like sheriff’s deputies also went to clients’ homes and delivered paperwork and “summons” for the phony hearings. The documents implied the recipients would be arrested by the sheriff if they did not comply.

In a lawsuit, the Pennsylvania AG accused the firm, Unicredit, of using the courtly trappings to intimidate consumers into giving access to their bank accounts, making payments, and handing over title to cars and other assets.

“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,” Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a statement.

The president of Unicredit told the Erie Times-News that he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit.

If you’re being pursued by debt collectors, make sure to read and understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. And scrutinize any paperwork you receive, just because it looks official doesn’t mean it is.

Attorney General goes to court to shut down Erie debt collector [GoErie] (Thanks to Double Echo and Jeff!)

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  1. oldwiz65 says:

    I would think the real reason they are going after the debt collection firm is because they want the debt collection agencies to use the court system, where the judges and sheriff’s can collect a percentage under the table from the amounts extorted from supposed debtors. Judges need money to fund their re-election campaigns.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Are you kidding, trolling or really that far removed from reality?

      • TechnicallySpeaking says:

        What happens if we enacted a tinfoil hat tax? Would the circular logic of that cause those wearers’ heads to combust?

        Maybe we should try.

        • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

          They just don’t like the competition. Besides, the phake court got things done much, much faster and with a lot less taxpayers’ money. Any Ron Paul supporter should love this idea.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        you can’t recognize sarcasm?

        • DanRydell says:

          It’s hard to tell when so many people actually think that way.

        • esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

          I was gonna add my own $.02.

          That’s what these people get for not paying their obligations as the promised. Pay your bills and you’ll never get screwed over…. oh, yeah… they probably defaulted on their Best Buy card, so you know they really deserved it.

          • The Marionette says:

            How about a real court summons instead of a fraud one? Them setting up a fake court system to get money from someone is just as bad as someone avoiding to pay the money back. Also some of the times the people don’t pay the money back because they simply can’t afford it if they wanted. It’s not all debtors that are avoiding payments on purpose.

  2. AllanG54 says:

    I hope when the AG gets done dishing out fines that they won’t have to send debt collectors after this crap company to collect.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    If shes the judge, I plead guilty and offer her all my “assets”.

  4. Hotscot says:

    This unbelievable.
    In other new….It’s Not!

    Still…I’d gladly confess all to her….and make a few new confessions to boot..

  5. dragonfire81 says:

    And I guarantee you not one SINGLE person serves jail time because of this

  6. cardigan says:

    Mock Trial with J. Reinhold is now in session.

  7. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’m dealing with NCO right now. I just sent them a letter asking for a complete statement of account they promised me and I haven’t received. They said there were two things on there, but they only sent me a bill and it only had one.

    • Joey Strange says:

      Read up on NCO before dealing with them. They just got their butts handed to them because of shady dealings.

  8. olderbudwizer says:

    I’m still of the opine that when a company writes off the account as “bad debt” and takes a tax credit – the deal is DEAD, and can’t be sold for pennies to these scummy mofo firms.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      They can only take a tax credit for the amount of the loss. If someone owes a company $1000, and they give up on collecting and sell the debt for $100, the company only gets to write off a $900 loss. By the same token, if the debt collector ends up getting $300 from the debtor, the $200 profit is taxable.

    • DanRydell says:

      I’m still of the opinion that “opine” is a verb, not a noun. Also, there’s a big difference between a tax write-off and a tax credit. Also, NeverLetMeDown schooled you on your other mistake.

  9. galm666 says:

    So not only is this shady, but it also looks like impersonation of official figures of authority. Isn’t that alone a broken law?

    • AngryK9 says:

      A felony in some states.

      • huadpe says:

        also you have various “under colour of law” modifiers for whatever other crimes they’ve committed (and I’m sure there are more)

    • MountainCop says:

      You betcha! It’s called impersonation of a police officer (the ‘deputies’) since they committed an act (serving a ‘summons’) under the guise of authority. Here in Colorado – it’s a felony. I don’t know the exact law that would cover the ‘judge’ and the others, but I do know impersonating a public official is definitely illegal.

  10. oldwiz65 says:

    And suppose that the “sheriff” actually “arrests” the person, and the “sheriff” has a fake uniform and a real gun and they demand money; then we have at least impersonating an officer and armed kidnapping and demanding a ransom. Armed kidnapping is a very serious felony; I checked the California statues, and kidnapping with ransom carries a life sentence. The debt collection firms know they can get away with quite a bit; they just go out of business and reopen under another name perhaps in another state.

  11. Jasen says:

    Farking hell this kind of shit pisses me off.
    Companies that purposely engage in fraud like this need to be disbanded, not given little fines as a slap on the wrist.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      They’d just reopen as another business.

      Busines OWNERS who perform haneously illegal acts as the business owner should be barred from obtaining a business license.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        These kind of people don’t need no steeeenking business license. They’re in the same group as loan sharks and would be glad to avoid paying any taxes at all.

      • OnePumpChump says:

        So you hire some nobody to get the business license and pretend to run the company, like Dan Halen on Squidbillies.

        Nothing short of prison time is going to do a damn thing. And if the money involved is big enough, it would have to be a lot of prison time to make the reward not worth it.

  12. dolemite says:

    Oh well…needs to be a lot of people going to jail on this one. Impersonating cops, judges, fake documents…that’s some serious stuff there.

  13. denros says:

    I can’t even imagine how much fun I would have with this if I stumbled across it. The possibilities are endless.

    “Now I may be a simple hyperchicken from a backwoods asteroid…”

  14. Big Mama Pain says:

    This is like the “free concert tickets to Metallica” notices that sheriff’s depts. send out to people with outstanding warrants. They show up to get the free tickets and get arrested.

  15. runswithscissors says:

    None of this would happen if people would just PAY THEIR DEBTS and STOP BUYING HOUSES THEY CAN’T AFFORD.

    I have no sympathy for the “victims” at all. This company should be lauded for their innovation in collecting from scumbag deadbeats.

    … anyone see what I did there? :)

    • MrEvil says:

      Obvious troll is obvious?

      • runswithscissors says:

        Did you read the “…anyone see what I did there?” with the smiley?

        I was mock-parroting what Commenters always seem to chime in with for any story involving debt and/or mortgages.

    • s73v3r says:

      Damn you and your sarcasm. I was all ready to set free my indignant rage at the lack of humanity involved with your post. But you rage-blocked me.

  16. sonneillon says:

    They have opened themselves up to a world of hurt with Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I mean If they showed up at my door. That is Identifying themselves to the consumer violation 1000 bucks. Notifying the consumer about their right to dispute the debt 1000 bucks. Filing the lawsuit in the proper forum 1000 bucks. Misrepresentation 1000 bucks. Threatening arrest 1000 bucks. Well that is 5k right there, well up to 5k, but the judge will likely not be pleased at all and max it out on them. Hell with that 5k that goes a long way towards paying off other debts.

    Also the felonies too the guys who impersonated the officers will be in serious trouble if the courts decide to pursue that. I think it is up to 6 months in jail per violation, and more if the city itself has stricter laws.

  17. justjoe says:

    Unicredit = Telatron? Why am I not surprised to see this coming out of my hometown? Sounds about right…. Unethical, probably illegal, and shady as hell.

  18. duxup says:

    WTF? How about some criminal prosecutions against some of the individuals as well?

  19. zantafio says:

    What’s next? Phony debtor jails?

    • brokebackwallet says:

      Kidnapping, false imprisonment and so on. Followed by arrest and real imprisonment of the person(s) doing such things.

  20. soj4life says:

    i am not surprised this is happening in PA.

  21. Mecharine says:

    I’ve never heard of anyone impersonating an entire court room. Are there even any applicable laws for that?

  22. TampaShooters says:

    At what point did someone in that company say… “Hey, I’ve got a great idea, let’s impersonate a Police Officer, Set up a fake courtroom, and the whole shebang, and really scare the heck out of people.”

  23. sopmodm14 says:

    isn’t it illegal to impersonate a judge or govt official or somethign ?