Thursday, November 5, 2015


Original Story:

A Federal Trade Commission crackdown on the debt collection industry has resulted in a $6.4 million settlement for victims of a suburban Chicago couple who ran a phantom payday loan debt collection scheme, authorities said Wednesday. A Louisville debtor and creditor lawyer represents clients in collection matters.

Charles and Chantelle Dickey of Oswego were ordered to pay the amount by a Chicago federal judge Tuesday, and banned from operating a debt collection agency.

It is unclear from court documents whether the defendants' assets, which were frozen during the investigation, will be sufficient to pay the judgment. They could not be reached for comment.

The FTC and the Illinois attorney general's office charged the couple in April with threatening and intimidating consumers over payday or other short-term loans that were not owed. Many consumers paid the couple's now-defunct Aurora-based collection company, KIP, simply because they wanted to end the harassment, according to authorities. A Las Vegas contract lawyer is following this story closely.

"You have scam operations that are collecting fake debts that consumers do not owe, and they do it through threatening and harassing individuals into eventually paying money that they don't owe," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

Operating under multiple business names including Payday Loan Recovery Group and Second Chance Financial, the defendants targeted consumers over loans they claimed were delinquent, threatening to garnish wages, suspend or revoke their driver's licenses, have them arrested or sue those who did not pay, according to the complaint.

Some of the victims had taken out short-term loans from payday lenders, but the loans were not delinquent, nor did the defendants have the right to collect on the loans, the complaint said. Many of the victims were outside Illinois, a spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general's office said. An Aiken debtor and creditor lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The judgment includes proceeds from the sale of a car and the turnover of any assets held by third parties, including financial institutions.

Former employees believe the Dickeys may hold KIP assets in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Bahamas, according to a court-appointed receiver in the case.

The couple's Oswego home is in foreclosure, authorities said.

The nationwide initiative, Operation Collection Protection, includes 30 new actions by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against collectors who use tactics like harassing phone calls and false threats of litigation, arrest and wage garnishment.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said abusive debt collection has risen along with consumer debt, with nearly 30 million consumers having at least one account in collection. She said while the vast majority of debt collection contacts are legal, many are not.

"We receive more complaints about this industry than any other," Ramirez said. Last year consumers filed over 280,000 complaints with federal authorities related to debt collection, she said.

This year, the FTC has filed 11 cases against more than 50 defendants, secured more than $88 million in judgments and banned 24 defendants from the industry, Ramirez said.

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