Will Collection Agency Pay for Using Fake Courtroom to Intimidate Debtors?0
Debt collectors, such as medical collections representatives, often get bad raps for using aggressive tactics to get money from patients. However, one Pennsylvania collection agency, Unicredit America, really crossed the line. Its owner, Michael Covatto, used a fake courtroom to pressure debtors into paying their bills.
In one particular incident, reported by insideARM.com, Unicredit used the bogus courtroom to get $2,000 from 73-year-old Marilyn Johnson who owed 4,000 to a funeral home for her late husband’s burial expenses. Unicredit also managed to get the title to her son’s car, after the fake judge threatened to put Johnson in jail.
Unicredit was shut down in November 2010 after officials learned of the courtroom scam, but nearly two years later the case is far from settled. Covatto is no longer allowed to work in the debt collection business – medical collections or otherwise. He has also been banned from starting any other business with his father or half-brother, Anthony, who were also involved in Unicredit’s courtroom scam. In addition, the state’s Attorney General is asking for $1.2 million in restitution. The problem is Covatto recently filed for bankruptcy, leaving many to wondering whether there is any money left to pay the fine.
Part of the $1.2 million that the Attorney General is requesting Covatto pay will go to debtors who suffered harm due to the company’s illegal practices. The rest of the money will be used to pay court fines and filing fees, including investigative and legal fees accrued by the Attorney General’s Office.
Will Unicredit’s owners be forced to pay the fine?