Debt Collector Faked Court Hearings to Trick Consumers into Paying Up, Says AG’s Suit
Posted Nov 1, 2010 12:59 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A Pennsylvania debt collector conducted fake court hearings in a mock courtroom in its offices and even sent uniformed officers who appeared to be sheriff's deputies to serve civil subpoenas demanding that consumers appear for "hearings" and "depositions," the state attorney general's office contends in a lawsuit.
Intimidated consumers allegedly provided their bank account numbers and even turned over the title to their cars.
The action seeks an order from a real state court freezing the assets of Unicredit America Inc. and prohibiting the company from continuing to collect debts or conduct further proceedings at its Unicredit Debt Resolution Center in Erie, according to a press release from the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.
The suit, which was filed by the office's Bureau of Consumer Protection, alleges violations of the state Consumer Protection Law and federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
"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," says Corbett in the release. "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'."
The president of the company declined to comment Friday, reported the Pittsburgh Channel, a local ABC affiliate.
Attorney Larry D'Ambrosio is accused of orchestrating the hearings in the mock courtroom, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. He could not immediately be reached for comment on the Erie County lawsuit.
Hat tip: Overlawyered