"— a fixer who knew just what to do."
August 15, 2014 3:35 PM   Subscribe

PAPER BOYS: The Dark World of Debt Collection [New York Times] In the murky world of unpaid bills, a banker and an ex-con can make a fortune — if they don’t run into too many crooks.
posted by Fizz (16 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
That someone who uses predatory practices to make money is himself deceived by predatory practices of a similar kind is rather appropriate.
posted by Fizz at 3:48 PM on August 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fuck all these guys.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:26 PM on August 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


That Wilson guy actually looks like a mob enforcer.

And i mean, like a TV character mob enforcer.

This entire thing is surreal, and would make a good TV series honestly.

So why hasn’t the government helped establish such a registry?

Because too much money is flying around. The "investors" he collected from early on are likely hedge fund level, and want to play this game as long as they have deniability.
posted by emptythought at 4:29 PM on August 15, 2014


Saying something like "hedge fund level" is just silly and reveals you don't know what you are talking about.
posted by JPD at 4:37 PM on August 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fuck all these guys.

Yes and the politicians that allow these practices to exist and continue.
posted by Fizz at 4:45 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a good time to remind people of something everyone should know:

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Learn it. You may never need it. More likely at some point you will be bothered for a debt that is or isn't yours. Know your rights, and if someone tries to collect a debt then make damn sure you verify that it is valid.
posted by azpenguin at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Bottom feeder is an apt term of phrase for these people.
posted by arcticseal at 8:30 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jesus, what a pack of assholes.
posted by protocoach at 10:15 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Saying something like "hedge fund level" is just silly and reveals you don't know what you are talking about.

Made sense to me.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:51 PM on August 15, 2014


Well I kind of have to admire the honesty of the guy calling himself a bottom feeder.
posted by localroger at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2014



Because too much money is flying around. The "investors" he collected from early on are likely hedge fund level, and want to play this game as long as they have deniability.
posted by emptythought


Saying something like "hedge fund level" is just silly and reveals you don't know what you are talking about.
posted by JPD
So what was [attorney general of Minnesota] Swanson's complaint? Simple: it turns out the National Arbitration Forum had affiliated itself with a debt collection conglomerate, something that might have made them just a wee bit less than perfectly neutral in consumer debt disputes. The affiliation was done through a chain of intermediaries to try and keep everything on the QT, but it was still there. The chart on the right shows how it worked. Here's the explanation from the court filing:
Accretive, Agora, Axiant, the Forum, and Mann Bracken form a complex web of companies that compose some of the largest debt collectors and arbitrators of consumer credit card debt in the country.

....In June 2006, principals of Accretive, LLC met in Minnesota with Edward Anderson and Michael Kelly, officers of the National Arbitration Forum....Among other things, Accretive promised the Forum that it could provide it with “[i]ntroduction to legal collections individuals” and stated that “we believe Accretive would be a great partner to help NAF become a billion dollar company.”

....Under the proposal, Cline’s company — Accretive, LLC — would acquire a 40 percent ownership interest in the Forum and the right to appoint two members to its board of directors. Accretive promised to play an “active role in landing new customers.”

....The Forum — aided by principals of Accretive — thereafter went to great lengths to concoct an elaborate corporate structure that conceals — but does not legitimize — the affiliations that undermine its claims of independence and neutrality. For example, for most of its existence, defendant NAF, Inc. operated as a standalone company. As part of the transaction between the Forum and Accretive, both companies created new companies that would conceal the affiliation between them. The Forum formed Forthright, and Accretive formed Agora. As a result, at no time is Accretive publicly disclosed as an owner of the Forum....In fact, the three defendants — NAF, Inc., NAF, LLC, and Forthright — effectively operate as one enterprise.
Italics mine. Basically, a guy named J. Michael Cline, who owned a bunch of debt collection companies, put together a plan to secretly buy a stake in NAF. Result: synergy! NAF rules against the consumer and one of Cline's companies collects the debt.
Accretive LLC is a hedge fund established by J. Michael Cline.

Who, exactly, doesn't know what they're talking about?
posted by jamjam at 10:10 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, remember that politeness thread?
posted by persona au gratin at 5:52 PM on August 16, 2014


If you have credit card debt over 180 days old, there is a very high likelihood the debt was sold. Once sold it takes only a short time for the debt to land in the hands of an unscrupulous collector. Once credit card debt passes this threshold it is unlikely that any payments you make to the collector will be reported to the credit card company or the credit agencies.

If you are contacted by a collector, document the call with a written note. Be sure to get a name and mailing address. Then immediately go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- and find the section "I’ve been contacted by a debt collector. How do I reply?" This information is updated from time-to-time so be sure to check for updates.

I suggest that you click on the link: I need more information about this debt. Prepare the letter as prescribed and send it by registered mail to the collector. My guess is that you will not hear back from the collector, but if you do you will then have the information you need to legitimately resolve the debt.

The most likely scenario is that you will not hear back from the debt collector. In this case, the registered letter serves as documentation if you are sued and as documentation for the credit reporting agencies.

You may consider using the services of a Consumer Credit Counselor. Many of these services represent themselves as community service agencies, but there is a big business built around these services. The FTC has some good information on this. Unfortunately, very few people end up paying down their debt. If you have reached this stage, I recommend you contact a bankruptcy attorney.

Finally, if you continue to be harassed by shadowy debt collectors, you are now on the sucker list. There is no way to get off that list, so consider changing your phone number.
posted by ObeyDefy at 7:37 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who, exactly, doesn't know what they're talking about?

Accretive is not a hedge fund so I guess the answer to that question is you. You don't know what you are talking about.
posted by JPD at 8:08 AM on August 18, 2014


This was a good read. The selection of photographs that accompany the piece was odd. It was like they were trying really hard to match the crime noir tone of the piece, but not quite hitting the mark. The shot of Siegel driving is what is silly here.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2014


Who, exactly, doesn't know what they're talking about?

Accretive is not a hedge fund so I guess the answer to that question is you. You don't know what you are talking about.
posted by JPD


Accretive LLC absolutely is a hedge fund:

Business Week:
Indeed, the case claims that New York hedge fund Accretive LLC—in which Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. is a general partner—has cross ownership of such major collection law firms and the NAF, sending collection cases between the two.
Attorney General, Lori Swanson, in a court filing:
Defendants include MBNA, Wachovia, Capital One, J.P. MorganChase, Citigroup and Discover Card. Also sued are Accretive LLC, a hedge fund affiliated with the Forum; Agora, a private equity fund owned by Accretive; and Axiant LLC, a debt collection agency formed by Accretive.
a California court filing in a completely separate case:
a group of New York hedge funds known as Accretive LLC ...
etcetera, etcetera.

Even the page you link to -- apparently put up by Accretive -- does not deny that it's a hedge fund; it simply fails to address the issue at all.

So. Not only is your arrogant, condescending, and contemptuous dismissal of emptythought's actually rather brilliant insight -- and of emptythought himself -- completely mistaken, you seem not to have what it takes to acknowledge your mistake.
posted by jamjam at 10:19 AM on August 18, 2014


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