View Full Version : Unicredit America Inc.

11-07-2010, 11:18 AM
Consider for a moment the difficulties faced by debt collections agencies, we no longer have debtors prisons and many of the most effective, tried and true methods to encourage people to pay their debts, leg breaking for example, are illegal in this country. We even have federal legislation like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which further restrict the ways that a collections agency can harass and harangue the people who's debts they purchased for pennies on the dollar. With our legal system stacked so firmly against them, Unicredit America Inc (http://www.unicreditamerica.com/). of Erie Pennsylvania took the next logical step, they set up their own court.

In a press release (http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=5763) the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office accuses Unicredit America Inc. (also called Unicredit Debt Resolution Center) of using "deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers - including the use of bogus "hearings" allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom."

"This is an unconscionable attempt to use fake court proceedings to deceive, mislead or frighten consumers into making payments or surrendering valuables to Unicredit without following lawful procedures for debt collection," Corbett said. "Consumers also allegedly received dubious 'hearing notices' and letters - often hand-delivered by individuals who appear to be Sheriff Deputies - which implied they would be taken into custody by the Sheriff if they failed to appear at the phony court for 'hearings' or 'depositions'."

According to the lawsuit, fictitious court proceedings were used to intimidate consumers into providing access to bank accounts, making immediate payments or surrendering vehicle titles and other assets - sometimes dispatching Unicredit employees to consumers' homes in order to retrieve documents or have consumers sign payment agreements.

I am ecstatic to say these people have been stopped and are facing prosecution, but what kind of a scum bag do you need to be to think a scheme like this up? What kind of person would pretend to be a judge or a sheriffs deputy in an effort to deceive and intimidate people? I get a warm feeling knowing these people will be facing a real judge soon.

From the press release linked above:

Corbett urged consumers with complaints or questions related to Unicredit debt collection practices to call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or file an online consumer complaint (http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/complaints.aspx?id=451).

11-07-2010, 12:28 PM
Unicredit America Inc., are just another of a long line of people who form "businesses" to capitalize on the sufferings of those who are on the losing end of the economic crisis.

It is a sad reflection on society's values when illegal organizations, such as autosurfs, HYIPS, productless MLMs and the like have been multiplying at frightening rate to prey on the desperate and the needy. These "businesses" run by human beings who seem to have lost their human values. It is an even sadder reflection on our society that there are a large minority who will attack their prosecution with accusations of government interference and socialism. I am sure that the defenders of Unicredit America Inc., will be no exception to this rule.

11-07-2010, 01:15 PM
At the moment, there is a video from a TV station's coverage here:

Team 4: Debt Collectors Accused Of Fake Courtroom, Judge - Team 4 News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh (http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/team4/25569199/detail.html)

Also, a good newspaper summary of the allegations here:

GoErie.com: Local News - Attorney general goes to court to shut down Erie debt collector (http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101030/NEWS02/310309944)


11-08-2010, 03:15 AM
The perps in this scam are real scum-bags no doubt. I wonder how long this scam went on until someone smelled a rat. The normal average educated person would of known right away that this was not a court of law. The sad thing is the scammers of today will stoop to the lowest levels. The good thing is they will get caught if they are going to stoop this low.

01-19-2012, 10:05 AM
AG Files New Lawsuit Against Erie’s Unicredit

by Alex Ferreras (http://www.loansafe.org/author/alex-ferreras) on January 9, 2012 (http://www.loansafe.org/ag-files-new-lawsuit-against-eries-unicredit) in Latest Financial News (http://www.loansafe.org/financial-news)

The state Attorney General’s Office has renewed its suit against a now-defunct Erie debt collection agency, Unicredit America Inc.

This time, it wants to hold its president, Michael J. Covatto, and his half-brother, Anthony D. Covatto, vice president of the company, personally liable for violations of consumer protection laws.

Deputy Attorney General Leslie Grey filed the amended complaint in Erie County Court on Thursday.

It renews claims first filed in 2010 that Unicredit operated a fake courtroom at 1537 W. 39th St. and used deceptive, intimidating practices to extract payments from debtors.

Grey maintains that Michael Covatto and Anthony Covatto directly participated in the company’s unfair practices and had the ability to stop them. They, along with the corporation, should be liable for damages, Grey said.

The attorney general’s initial suit, filed in Erie County Court in October 2010, named Unicredit as the sole defendant. Erie County Judge Michael E. Dunlavey responded to the suit by ordering the fake courtroom closed in November 2010.

The Attorney General’s Office first sought to add the Covattos to the complaint in June. Dunlavey added Anthony Covatto, 25, to the complaint but was stymied in the request to add Michael Covatto, 50, because he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection days earlier.

Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas Agresti in November cleared the way for the state government to move against Michael Covatto when he ruled Michael Covatto’s personal bankruptcy does not insulate him from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Though he let the Attorney General’s Office proceed, Agresti said the office could not “enforce any money judgment” against Michael Covatto without approval from Agresti. The Attorney General’s Office is seeking fines and costs.

It appears from proceedings in Bankruptcy Court thus far that Michael Covatto’s only remaining asset is his home in the 800 block of Ruth Avenue in Millcreek Township.

Michael Covatto has declined to comment. In September, a federal magistrate judge appointed him an assistant federal public defender, who generally represents criminal defendants. The assistant federal public defender, Thomas Patton, has declined to comment.

No criminal charges have been filed in the Unicredit case.

In Bankruptcy Court, a bankruptcy trustee has written that it appeared that Michael Covatto “was being investigated for possible state and federal criminal charges.”

Following Patton’s advice, Covatto has repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer some questions about his finances and Unicredit’s operations in bankruptcy proceedings.

While the Attorney General’s Office suit moves forward on the docket in Erie County Court, the Attorney General’s Office, as a creditor, has also filed a claim against Michael Covatto in Bankruptcy Court. The Attorney General’s Office wants to ensure Covatto’s bankruptcy would not preclude him from paying fines or costs if he loses the civil suit.

Covatto’s bankruptcy lawyer, Michael Graml, wants Agresti to dismiss the claim of the Attorney General’s Office. Graml is arguing the Attorney General’s Office has failed to present evidence that Covatto engaged in fraud with Unicredit.

Agresti will hear arguments on the dismissal request at the federal courthouse in Erie on March 5.

Staff writer Ed Palattella contributed to this story.

LISA THOMPSON can be reached at 870-1802 or by e-mail.

©2012 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)
Visit the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.) at GoErie.com: Erie's #1 Source for News and Information (http://www.GoErie.com)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Source: Lisa Thompson Erie Times-News, Pa.

http://www.loansafe.org/ag-files-new-lawsuit-against-eries-unicredit (http://www.loansafe.org/ag-files-new-lawsuit-against-eries-unicredit)