United Credit Recovery LLC, a Florida-based financial firm, allegedly attempted to collect overdue debts from consumers by creating phony legal documents that included cut-and-paste bank logos, according to a lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's office.
The lawsuit alleges United Credit created affidavits that "falsely appeared to have been sworn to and signed by officers of the original banks and notarized," the Attorney General's Office said in a news release.
United Credit bought uncollected consumer banks debt stemming from past-due overdraft fees. Those fees originally were owed by account holders to banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Huntington National Bank.
The lawsuit also accuses United Credit of ultimately selling the fake affidavits to other debt buyers. It seeks to stop the company from sending computer-generated affidavits, with civil penalties of $25,000 for each violation, and the state's costs for the investigation and legal action.
"This lawsuit is about protecting the integrity of the legal system," Swanson said. "Because these affidavits were resold to other debt buyers, we need the involvement of the court to contain their usage."
United Credit officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank both informed Swanson's office that they stopped selling overdraft debt to debt buyers last year. United Credit paid Wells Fargo an estimated $19 million to purchase overdraft debt with a face value of more than $700 million between 2010 and 2012.
Last month, Wells Fargo sued United Credit in federal court for creating the fake affidavits.
United Credit also paid an estimated $31 million to U.S. Bank between 2007 and 2011 to buy debt with an estimated $820 million face value.
The Minnesota Legislature passed a law this year requiring debt buyers seeking default judgments in court to offer evidence they're suing the right person and that the consumer has been notified of the lawsuit. Swanson's office backed that measure.