A West Virginia Woman, Diana Mey, won the largest judgment ever against an abusive debt collection – more than $10 million.

From her small-town home base in Wheeling, Mey went after a debt collection empire that hounds people nationwide and won.  “I don’t know that I’ll ever collect a dime, but if I can get their operation shut down, that would make me very happy.”  She still hasn’t received any money.

Two years ago, a debt collector with a company called Reliant Financial Associates left a message implying that her house was in jeopardy if she didn’t pay a debt.  It is illegal for debt collectors to make empty threats about serving people with a lawsuit or seizing their home.

“They threatened to take legal action against our property and it wasn’t even our debt,” Mey said.

Millions of Americans are victims of this kind of mistaken debtor identity, party because of a new breed of collectors called “debt buyers.”  Debt buyers purchase old debts for pennies that the original creditors have given up on and then try to collect them for a big profit.  Reliant Financial Associates is a debt buyer who, critics say, sometimes uses outrageous tactics to get the money where others have failed.

Mey wrote RFA a cease and desist letter, telling the company not to contact her anymore.  Postal records show exactly when RGA signed for it.  Exactly 23 minutes later, Mey started getting mysterious hang-up calls that showed up on her caller ID as coming from the same local number.  After two days of hang-up calls from that number, Mey picked up another one with that same caller ID.  The man on the line repeatedly called her a vulgar name for the female anatomy.  He described violent sexual acts he would like to subject her to and asked if she liked to be “gang banged.”  The verbal assault went on for nearly two minutes.

Mey said she didn’t make a connection between that call and the collectors.  But then she learned that the call hadn’t come from a local number after all.  The caller ID had been manipulated to look like it did, a practice called spoofing.  That’s when she went online and discovered complains from RFA debt collectors, including a male collector who called women vulgar names.

Mey said it took her a year to find attorney who would sue on her behalf.  Last May, Mey sued RFA for harassment and illegal collection practices.  In August, RFA’s lawyer failed to show up in court, so Mey testified unopposed.  The judge called RFA’s actions “malicious” and ruled that all of the allegations were true.  And then he awarded that record judgment of $10,860,000.

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