Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a debt collection operation accused of threatening, harassing and misleading consumers.
The lawsuit, filed in Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court, names three debt collection businesses: "LRS Litigations," IRS Equity" and "Worldwide Requisitions. The companies allegedly would swear at and threaten people with criminal prosecution if they failed to pay their debts or call the debt collector back within 24 hours, according to the lawsuit. In most cases, consumers did not owe the debts referenced, the lawsuit states.
Mohan Bagga of Duluth, Ga., Marcus Brown of Buffalo, N.Y. and Universal Debt & Payment Solutions LLC are named as defendants.
The lawsuit states that the defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Dodd-Frank Act. The operation generated more than 130 complaints to the Ohio Attorney Generals Office.
LRS Litigations listed a business address in Cleveland, but an investigation by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section found that the business did not operate in Cleveland.
"Our investigation determined that this operation routinely lied to, threatened, and harassed consumers to try to trick them into paying debts they did not owe," DeWine said. "The people behind this scheme need to be held accountable, and consumers need to know that they dont have to take this kind of abuse."
The lawsuit seeks the repayment of any sums collected under false pretenses. It asks for fines of $25,000 for every violation of the FDCPA and for the defendants and their companies to be prohibited from doing business in Ohio.Specific alleged violations listed in the lawsuit include:
- Harassing consumers and using obscene language when trying to collect debt.
- Placing multiple, harassing phone calls in a short period of time.
- Failing to disclose a callers identity to the consumer.
- Failing to provide written notices to consumers about the debt they supposedly owed.
- Using false, deceptive, or misleading representations.
- Lying about how much or what kind of debt consumers owed.
- Falsely threatening consumers with arrest, legal action, or imprisonment if they failed to pay.
- Unfairly threatening to take consumers property or wages if they fail to pay.
- Accepting consumers payments in violation of the FDCPA.