A trial started yesterday in North Carolina as prosecutors are going after two individuals for their roles in an alleged debt collection scam that bilked thousands of individuals out of nearly $6 million.
Others who were rounded up as part of their roles in the alleged conspiracy have already pleaded guilty, but Laurence Sessum and Jacqueline Okomba have been indicted for their participation.
During the first day of the trial, victims of the scheme as well as those who used to work for the fake collection agency, Direct Processing, LLC testified, according to a published report. A victim testified that she was contacted and told she owed $2,500 to a credit card company. Told there was a warrant out for her arrest and thinking her ex-husband had made the charges, she paid the fraudsters, not knowing the debt did not exist.
“I was crying,” the woman said, according to the report. “I was devastated. I was a single mother of two kids.”
The former collector testified the lengths that collectors would go to in order to obtain payments from unsuspecting individuals. Collectors would use “aggressive” tactics, like “yelling, demanding payment, sometimes cussing, and threatening to sue.”
Attorneys representing the defendants asked jurors to “keep an open mind,” according to the published report, saying the prosecution needed to “prove there truly was a conspiracy to commit fraud.”