This story is so outrageous that I cannot figure out why it has not gone viral on the internet. Unicredit America Inc, a debt collection firm, had people dress up (pretending to be police), serve fake papers to people requiring them to show up in court.
People showed up in a fake court for a fake hearing with a fake witness stand, and an individual in black pretending to be a judge.
It isn’t easy for consumers to protect themselves these days, from robo-signers, foreclosure-rescue scams, and all manner of abusive collection tactics, but the Unicredit scam may take the prize for sheer audacity. It seems that Erie, Pennsylvania debt collection agency Unicredit not only set up a fake courtroom, complete with phony judge, with which to bamboozle and intimidate, but it dressed up employees like sheriff’s deputies to “serve” faked court papers on consumers.
The Unicredit scam, as outrageous as it is, differs mainly in scope from tactics that are commonly used by creditors and collection agencies, whose stock in trade is to mislead, exaggerate, and intimidate.
And while I haven’t seen the pseudo-courtroom scam before, the pseudo-law enforcement official is nothing new.
It’s not always easy when you are scared and someone is breathing down your neck, but again, that is a debt collector’s stock in trade. The more urgent he makes everything sound, the more likely you won’t slow down to think, and ask yourself some practical questions.
The most important and most practical advice is to go see an attorney. If you’re being threatened with legal action, an attorney can tell you what really can (and can’t) happen. If you’ve already been intimidated or scammed into giving up something you shouldn’t have, an attorney can tell you how to redress the situation. An attorney can also help you come up with a plan for addressing persistent credit problems, explain your options, and tell you what you can do about it. Knowledge is power, and it is the best, and most effective weapon you can have in protecting yourself from scam artists of all kinds–even the ones you owe.
I concur with the advice of Dana Wilkinson, Attorney at Law who wrote the above. If you are facing financial difficulties, please see the article for additional tips on how to protect yourself.
For still more reasons on why you need to consult an attorney in these matters please consider
Pennsylvania Attorney General Files Charges
How could anyone at Unicredit possibly think what they did was legal?
Straight from the Pennsylvania Attorney Generals website: Erie debt collection company sued; accused of using bogus “hearings” and fake “courtroom” to collect from consumers
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’.”
Corbett said that in conjunction with the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office has also filed a petition for special and preliminary injunction, asking the court to freeze all Unicredit assets; prohibit the company from engaging in any debt collection; immediately cease all bogus hearings or depositions; and to provide detailed information about company bank accounts, assets and business records.
Max Keiser talked about this incredible scheme in Fake Markets! Fake Finance
Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, look at the scandals of fake judges using fake deputies to collect fake debts in fake courts and of Irish austerity under imposed under fake pretences. In the second half of the show Max talks to David McWilliams about Ireland’s first ever economics festival, Kilkenomics, and the financial and banking crisis that inspired it.
The video is 25 minutes but covers a wide variety of topics including “fake authorities” in the US and Ireland demanding repayments in fraudulent ways.
The video is well worth a listen in entirety.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock