AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Fake debts result in real penalties for Georgia firms, feds say

Feds say a group working from Atlanta and from Cleveland had an interesting business model: Use fictitious business names, like United Judgment Center, United Judgments & Appeals or Dockets Liens & Seizures, and threaten people with arrest or legal action to get them to pay debts, even if they didn't owe them. You'd get a robocall and, authorities say, the typical message went something like this:

“[T]his is the Civil Investigations Unit.  We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear.  There is a contact number on file which you must call, 757-301-4745.  Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order.  You or your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter.”

The ruse apparently worked, resulting in the group collecting millions of dollars, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Now, under settlements with the FTC and a default court judgment, the group of companies and several individuals involved have been barred from the debt collection industry and must pay more than $9.3 million. Here's a link to the FTC's statement about the settlements.

Corporate defendants in the case are Pinnacle Payment Services, Velocity Payment Solutions, Heritage Capital Services, Performance Payment Processing, Credit Source Plus of Ohio and Credit Source Plus of Georgia, Reliable Resolution, Premium Express Processing of Ohio and Premium Express Processing of Georgia, Capitol Exchange, Global Acceptance, Freestar World, Heritage Management Services, Nationwide Payment Processors, National Processors Group, Pioneer Capital Services, Platium Express, Rapid Resolution, Solution Processing and Windfall Management Systems. They settled without admitting or denying the FTC's allegations.

The individuals named in the case are Lisa J. Jeter, Hope V. Wilson, Nichole C. Anderson, Angela J. Triplett, DeMarra J. Massey, Tobias Boyland, and Dorian Wills, court records show.

Money the FTC collects in the settlement could go to affected consumers, the settlement states.



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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.