According to a report from upstate Pennsylvania, a debt collection agency tried a novel approach to force its victims to pay up.
Authorities charge that Unicredit used civil court subpoenas to summon consumers to fake court hearings that were used to intimidate consumers into providing access to bank accounts, making immediate payments or surrendering vehicle titles and other assets. Sometimes, the complaint charges, Unicredit employees were sent to consumers' homes in order to retrieve documents or have consumers sign payment agreements.
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.
During some proceedings, authorities charge, an individual dressed in black was seated where observers would expect to see a judge.
"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.
"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'."
There's more at the link.
I've heard of some pretty raw and distasteful tactics used by debt collectors, but never of them setting up a complete fake courtroom and staging their own sham 'trials'! This has to be a whole new level of chutzpah, even for that benighted industry. One hopes those responsible will be speedily convicted, and spend an altogether unfaked period behind real bars.