By that point, she was so deep in debt that she filed for bankruptcy. Only after she consulted an attorney did she discover that it wasn't the DA sending her all those letters. It was an Arkansas company called District Attorney Technical Services. "The real district attorney had not investigated me or considered filing charges against me."

Meanwhile, the letters kept coming, threatening her with arrest. She eventually became part of a class-action lawsuit filed by Arons against the company's owner, Henry Craighead.

The suit claimed that District Attorney Technical Services illegally disguised itself as a government entity in order to extort penalties and fees. In 2011, a federal court awarded 36,000 victims nearly $750,000 in damages.

But it was too late. That same year, Craighead declared bankruptcy himself and only paid $160,000. He's now retired and living comfortably in Oregon, says Arons.

"That's what they do," Arons says. "Whenever we win one of these cases, they declare bankruptcy in order to avoid paying out damages. It's absolutely maddening."

The exact same thing had happened a year earlier, when Arons won a similar suit against American Corrective Counseling Services. A federal court ruled that, despite the company's claims of immunity, it had misrepresented itself, made false threats of prosecution and charged exorbitant penalties.

Once again, Arons' clients were unable to collect on their victory. American Corrective also declared bankruptcy, saying it couldn't repay investors — despite having herded $47 million in fees over the previous four years.

A few months later it was back in business, re-formed as Corrective Solutions and "free and clear" of all liability, according to court records.

Today, it's the biggest bad-check collector of them all.


Mike Wilhelms is president and CEO of Corrective Solutions. His LinkedIn profile boasts a photo of a fresh-faced surfer boy in charge of over 200 employees. The California counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange are his biggest customers, all within driving distance of his palm-tree-lined headquarters in San Clemente, where it's clear that business is booming.

Consumer-rights lawyers estimate the company sends out around 2 million letters annually. (The company did not respond to repeated interview requests.)

The Corrective Solutions website does its best to imply that it's an arm of law enforcement. A slide show gently fades in and out with statements about "holding offenders accountable for their actions." An interactive map shows its 140 contracts with DAs nationwide.

Nowhere does it say that most of these "offenders" have never been investigated or formally charged with a crime.

The site boasts dozens of quotes from pleased prosecutors, who sing praises of reduced caseloads and crime rates. Yet Contra Costa District Attorney Robert Kochly offers the most telling endorsement, noting he's grateful for "more revenue to my office."

District attorneys don't pay a cent for Corrective Solutions' services. Instead, the company pays them to run their bad-check programs. All a prosecutor must do is hand over official letterhead, along with a list of bad-check writers and a bit of "case criteria."

Between 2005 and 2008, Los Angeles County raked in more than $1 million. Miami-Dade made over $375,000.

When asked whether Miami-Dade's program was little more than a moneymaking scheme, Toussaint balks.

"Diverting such cases out of the criminal justice system gives an individual with no prior record an opportunity to avoid having a criminal record," she says. "It makes the victim receiver of the worthless check whole, and it is done with no cost to the taxpaying citizens of our community. Pre-trial diversion programs also allow the courts to focus on other types of criminal activity."

But while prosecutors claim they use collection agencies to decrease caseloads, some companies actually promise to expand them — for the sole purpose of generating more money.

Take BounceBack, the industry's second-largest player. It owns Check Connection, and makes no bones that generating fees is mission one.

"Is your program suffering from diminishing checks?" asks the company's website. "Visit Check Connection to learn how you can substantially increase the number of checks in your bad check program."

The site offers examples from places like Palm Beach County, Florida, which switched to BounceBack in 2006 after "merchants and other victims were complaining that they felt intimidated by the people administering the program. Check writers complained of strong-arm collection tactics."

Since then, Palm Beach has "passed the $1.5 million mark."

BounceBack won't discuss its business practices, believing it's been unfairly vilified by the media. "The press usually doesn't take anything that we say seriously, so we've begun to decline to make comments," says company vice president Gale Krieg.

Still, prosecutors eagerly rise to the industry's defense.

"They're not just some debt-collection company," Louis Alvarez, head of the Los Angeles DA's check program, says of Corrective Solutions. "What they are doing is trying to help us recoup money for victims."

The real victims, at least in Alvarez's mind, aren't math-challenged consumers, but merchants who lose more than $120 billion annually to bad checks, according to the Federal Reserve. He argues that Corrective Solutions is simply helping his overburdened and underfunded office get restitution — while "rehabilitating" check writers who are likely guilty of fraud.

"We do get people who made a mistake, but a good majority of the students who take our class say that they just procrastinated and didn't intend to pay until they saw the mail from the DA's office."

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11 comments
Quano
Quano

So will we find that the person who runs this abusing shake down debt collection is friends or a family member of someone in power  in California?  Where are those who are suppose to be working and representing the common citizen?  Why is it that there seems to be two sets of laws in our country of late, one for the so called uber rich and one for the rest of us so called  useless eaters?http://hcaextract.wufoo.com/forms/buy-garcinia-cambogia-fat-buster/ http://greencoffeebeanmax.wufoo.com/forms/buy-green-coffee-bean-extract-800mg/ http://hcaextract.wufoo.com/forms/buy-garcinia-cambogia-online/ http://fatlossfactor.wufoo.com/forms/fastest-way-to-lose-weight/

penkdooo
penkdooo

Thats some pretty scary stuff man, WIw.


www.GoToAnon.tk

trankmonk
trankmonk

Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude. Wow.


www.irAnon.tk

MaybeNextSeason
MaybeNextSeason

This is what Democrip and Rebloodican voters want though.  I cannot understand why you sheep are bah bah bahing about it.

faizy_rao
faizy_rao

If you think Gregory`s story is terrific,, 5 weaks-ago my cousins best friend basically recieved a check for $8589 putting in a twenty hour week an their house and there classmate's step-aunt`s neighbour done this for four months and got over $8589 part time from their labtop. applie the guidelines from this site, http://xurl.es/ukio6

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

If Brewski was involved in this, she would demand prison sentences at a CCA private prison, where inmates are forced to make shoes and shirts in a 100 degree sweat shop.

trankmonk
trankmonk

The kangaroo court system is a money making machine!


www.Anon-Dis.tk

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

I remember when Candy Andy and the Miscreants tried to come after me for allegedly passing a bad check on a closed bank account.

It failed. Badly.

Cozz
Cozz

The justice system has become more criminal than the criminals themselves over money.

marcy
marcy

Law enforcement has become a for-profit business.

With more laws added every year it is also a growth industry.  Think about it the next time you support some half-baked new law.

 
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