The Attorney General of North Carolina has filed a lawsuit and received a temporary restraining order against a series of entities owned by one individual who purchases defaulted debts from a rent-to-own chain and attempts to collect on the debts by sending unsigned criminal summonses or even going as far as to get the summonses signed using the wrong state law.
The complaint was filed against Gordon Scott Engle and his Texas-based collection agencies, Turtle Creek Assets Ltd., Turtle Creek Rentals LLC, and Royal Park Holdings Inc. The lawsuit also accuses the companies of attempting to collect debts in North Carolina without obtaining the proper licenses to do so.
A copy of the complaint can be accessed by clicking here.
The defendants are accused of using rented police officers, driving marked police cars, to hand deliver collection notices to individuals, many of which contained a criminal summons that was not signed by a magistrate judge. One notice was left inside of an individual’s door and picked up by the individual’s nine-year-old daughter, who read it and thought her mother was going to jail. The notices threatened to file a criminal complaint if payment was not made. When the individuals contacted the defendant’s representatives, they were also often threatened with arrest if a payment was not made or the merchandise not returned. The defendants are also accused of filing “hundreds” of criminal complaints using “misleading” language that resulted in judges signing criminal summonses against individuals.
“I’m grateful that these debt collectors won’t be able to threaten North Carolina consumers as this case continues,” said Attorney General Josh Stein, in a statement. “My office will not allow companies to illegally operate in our state and mistreat hardworking people.”
In filing the suit, the North Carolina AG alleges the defendants violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Business Corporation Act, Professional Corporation Act, Uniform Partnership Act, and North Carolina’s Prohibited Practices by Collection Agencies Engaged in Collection of Debts from Consumers.