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Minn. AG files lawsuit against Florida debt buyer

By Bryan Cohen | Nov 1, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline) -- Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a Florida company that bought charged-off customer accounts and allegedly manufactured affidavits to help them collect the accounts.

United Credit Recovery LLC, a company that buys overdraft debt, bought electronic portfolios containing accounts of hundreds of thousands of individuals and small businesses that allegedly owed overdraft fees and balances to large banks.

UCR allegedly created mass scale, cut and pasted affidavits that falsely appeared to be sworn and signed by officers of the original banks and notarized. The affidavits were allegedly created using computer software and were never actually signed and notarized.

The company allegedly used the manufactured affidavits to aid in the collection of the customer debt, both directly with consumers and through presentation to courts.

"This lawsuit is about protecting the integrity of the legal system," Swanson said in a statement. "Because these affidavits were resold to other debt buyers, we need the involvement of the court to contain their usage."

In one alleged instance, UCR created about 1,600 affidavits involving Minnesota customers that bore the identical pasted-in April 29, 2008 signature of an officer with U.S. Bank.

According to the affidavit, the signature of the bank official was supposedly witnessed by a notary on March 19, 2008, more than a month before the officer purportedly signed the affidavit.

Swanson's lawsuit seeks a court order to enjoin UCR from using, creating or reselling the manufactured affidavits. The suit also seeks to identify all other debt buyers to which it sold the affidavits and to use its best efforts to retrieve the affidavits it sold to other companies.

Between 2007 and 2011, UCR paid U.S. Bank about $31 million to buy overdraft debt with an estimated face value of $820 million. Between 2010 and 2012, UCR paid Wells Fargo about $19 million to buy overdraft debt with an estimated face value of more than $700 million.

Both banks told Swanson's office they stopped selling overdraft debt to debt buyers last year.

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