It seems that the recession is bringing out the worst for firms that are handling debt collection. One such firm has resorted to a novel approach to collect money from delinquent consumers. It sent out fake subpoenas to delinquent consumers and held a trial in a fake courtroom. The purpose of the fake trail was to intimidate delinquent consumers into paying their debt. Once this practice came to the attention of authorities, they acted, fining the debt company for each violation.

One article states:

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’.”

It is hard to believe that a company would stoop so slow as to set up a fake courtroom. But in this day and age, it shouldn’t come as a complete shock.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.