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 . . .

>

Source:
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
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=5763

Category: Legal

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

27 Responses to “Bogus Hearings, Fictitious Court Proceedings”

  1. What’s the big deal!?

    Its only paperwork . . .

  2. Bruman says:

    Please tell me that this is just a scary movie for Halloween. If it’s true, then jail time is what’s called for, for sure!

    If “Impersonating an Officer” is a crime, surely those laws can be used in this situation. The only worry is that the sentences may not be harsh enough.

    There are also presumably privacy violations where information was “voluntarily” provided under false pretenses of being sub poena.

    From an economic point of view, I always remind students and clients that any Adam Smith pointed out that any good or service that requires deception to sell it is an inferior good for which the invisible hand conclusion does not apply. Full knowlege and information is a key assumption for the market mechanism to work as it is supposed to in theory. In this case, the deception is not in order to sell a product, but the situation reminds me of those debt management advertisements on television that look like official government announcements unless you look carefully enough or know enough about government procedure to spot the difference.

    Someone needs to come down hard on this!

  3. deanscamaro says:

    Sounds like something our Congress would pull to make believe they were actually doing something.

  4. FrancoisT says:

    The fact that Corbett hasn’t sent anyone to jail yet, or even forcefully ask for it doesn’t bode well for his election as governor.

    WTF is that? Soft on financial crime? If I were Onoratto, (his opponent) I’d skim him alive.

  5. Mannwich says:

    LOL. No biggie, BR. It’s just the free market hard at work. Let it thrive.

  6. Mannwich says:

    And, hey, it’s the idiots fault they get taken advantage of. They should clearly know better.

  7. teraflop says:

    If I were the man-in-black at this court I’d at least keep a stuffed kangaroo in the corner as a clue to the less-clueless and an “out” for my later defense.

  8. Marcus says:

    Jail alone is too good for these bastards.

    They should be sent to a Federal prison with free incoming phone calls that could not be turned off. Then send out a general (but fake) collection notice that 80% of $1,000,000 would be paid to the first collection agency that could catch these miscreants.

    This is something like the Nigerian scam, except that these low worms from hell would have a life sentence with collection agency scum being their only outside contact.

  9. Mannwich says:

    And read an article today in the Sunday Times about how one of the first tells that people have Alzheimer’s is their inability to manage their finances in even basic ways. Heartbreaking stuff. I can only imagine the little sub-economies that are being created now that take advantage of these seniors. But, hey, it’s just the free market at work and their own fault for being weak, having weak DNA, and getting Alzheimer’s in the first place.

  10. treasurefish says:

    If anyone has read about the history of courts, they would know that there is nothing illegal being done! The “legitimate” courts themselves (those not State Supreme Courts – Common Law Courts) are ran by private Corporations. So, what’s the difference? This is just an attempt by the media (this website) to keep the wool pulled over our eyes that there is some legitimate court outside of Common Law. None exists!

  11. Bruman says:

    Capricorn I, private sector style!

  12. Rescission says:

    If this is true, these guys should go to the slammer.
    BR, your article was great, your posted comment not so great. Apples and Oranges for sure.

  13. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    I’m sure the PA Bar Association will try to collect dues and have one of their own appointed to the faux bench.

  14. barbacoa666 says:

    Perhaps we can put them to extracting money from the bankers and mortgage interests who perpetrated the last financial collapse

  15. IdahoSpud says:

    This is no big deal Barry.

    You know there are plenty of people out there who think the government can do nothing right. What better example of showing how the private sector works better than the public than privatizing the court system!

    Apple can set up a courtoom to settle with Ipod owners over defective batteries.
    BP can set up a company-run courtroom to settle their own claims against the Gulf Oil spill. I’m sure justice will be impartially served!
    The Banks can arrange a special court to speed up foreclosure proceedings (oh wait – they already have done that).
    Plus with a private police force, you should be able to arrest and handcuff pretty much anyone you want to! This article has given me lots of great ideas for the establishment of a 4th Reich!

    Thanks for sharing this, Barry! I have a glowing plan for the future of our country!

    /sarcasm.

  16. bergsten says:

    Hey, come on. They setup a phony courtroom, with phony judges, baliffs, and process servers by mistake. Everybody makes mistakes.

    Wonder if they set up a phony jail by mistake too?

  17. S Brennan says:

    Lawsuit? Lawsuit? Lawsuit?

    What the bleep, these are criminal actions, punishable under criminal statutes. Is this an AG…or a wussy general?

  18. Dow says:

    New Reality Television Show: Judge Judy Does Debt

  19. LoriInNC says:

    Time will tell in pretty short order whom our justice system works for … do they work for law and order as expected by the people or do they work for the lobbyists/special interests that line politicians’ pockets. Only time will tell, but time is wearing mighty thin.

  20. mathman says:

    Why is everyone so surprised by this? This is what happens in banana republics: kangaroo courts, funny money and the ownership class wreaking havoc on everyone else.

  21. perra says:

    posse anyone?

  22. lambert says:

    Obviously, the thing to do is have no assets at all. And we’re headed that way!

  23. contrabandista13 says:

    Barry:

    Why jail time…? It would be a great reality show….. We could call it…. “The Real Douche Bags of Erie….”

    Come on buddy let’s make a few bucks here….

    Best regards,

    Econolicious

  24. bergsten says:

    Since they created their own court, they can find themselves innocent.

  25. Basilisc says:

    “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.”

    The line between banks and full-time criminal organizations keeps getting blurrier.

  26. Lariat1 says:

    RICO laws were created to break organized crime and our Congress rewrote and repealed the laws to let our banks become Legal Loan Sharks, that’s all.