OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE OF FLORIDA, DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS,

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1 IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE OF FLORIDA, DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS, Case No.: v. Plaintiff, BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, JACKSON PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES, INC., a Florida Corporation, FRANK CLIFFORD JACKSON, Individually and as a Director of JACKSON PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES, INC. and BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, EVELYN CAIN JACKSON, Individually and as a Director of JACKSON PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES, INC. and BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, Defendants. / COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF, INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, DAMAGES, CIVIL PENALTIES AND OTHER STATUTORY RELIEF PLAINTIFF, STATE OF FLORIDA, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS (hereinafter referred to as Attorney General or Plaintiff ) makes and files this Complaint against BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, (hereinafter referred to as BASS ), JACKSON PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES, INC., (hereinafter referred to as JACKSON PHILLIPS ), FRANK CLIFFORD JACKSON, Individually and as Director of BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, and as director of JACKSON PHILLIPS

2 & ASSOCIATES, INC., EVELYN CAIN JACKSON, Individually and as Director of BASS PRELITIGATION SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a Bass Enterprises and d/b/a Bass & Associates, and as director of JACKSON PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES, INC. (hereinafter collectively referred to as Defendants ) and alleges as follows: JURISDICTION AND VENUE 1. The Attorney General brings this action pursuant to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes. 2. This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages in excess of $15, This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to Sections , and , Fla. Stat., as Defendants conducted business throughout the State of Florida from its operations at 314 West 44 th Street, Jacksonville, Florida and elsewhere throughout Jacksonville. 4. Venue is proper in this Court for Defendants pursuant to Sections and , Fla. Stat., as Defendants conduct business in and from Duval County, Florida. THE PARTIES 5. The Attorney General is an Enforcing Authority under Florida s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat. (2004). 6. The Attorney General is authorized to bring this action and seek damages, injunctive and other statutory relief pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat. (2004). 7. The violations of Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., alleged herein have occurred in and affect more than one judicial circuit in the State of Florida. Plaintiff has conducted an investigation, and Attorney General Bill McCollum, as head of the relevant enforcing authority, has determined that an enforcement action serves the public interest. 2

3 8. Defendant BASS is a Florida limited liability company doing business in the State of Florida at 314 West 44 th Street, Jacksonville, Florida Defendant BASS has used and been known as several corporate aliases, d/b/a, including but not limited to Bass and Associates and Bass Enterprises. 10. At all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint Defendants FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON were the owners as well as employees and officers and directors of BASS. 11. At all times relevant hereto Defendants FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON have personally engaged in, controlled, directed, formulated, caused or authorized the acts and practices of BASS alleged in this Complaint. 12. Defendant JACKSON PHILLIPS is a Florida corporation doing business in the State of Florida at 6931 Lillian Road, Suite 2, Jacksonville, Florida At all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint Defendants FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON were the owners as well as employees and officers and directors of JACKSON PHILLIPS. 14. At all times relevant hereto Defendants FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON have personally engaged in, controlled, directed, formulated, caused or authorized the acts and practices of JACKSON PHILLIPS alleged in this Complaint. 15. The unlawful conduct of Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON is exemplified by the numerous consumers who have filed complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau and/or the Attorney General s Office. 16. In spite of the fact that the Defendants have been aware of the Plaintiff investigation, 3

4 consumers continue to file complaints with both the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General s Office with equally serious allegations on an ongoing basis. COUNT I Violation of Florida s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat. 17. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendant BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and for statutory and actual damages for systematic violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat. ( FDUTPA ). 18. Plaintiff incorporates by reference and re-alleges paragraphs 1 through 15 as if more fully set forth herein. 19. At all times relevant hereto Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON were engaged in trade or commerce as defined by Section (8), Fla. Stat. (2004) 20. Section (2), Fla. Stat., establishes the policy of protect[ing] the consuming public and legitimate business enterprises from those who engage in unfair methods of competition, or unconscionable, deceptive or unfair acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. 21. Section (1), Fla. Stat., declares unlawful: unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. 22. As demonstrated herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and 4

5 EVELYN JACKSON engaged in illegal debt collections from Florida. 23. During the course of those transactions, the Defendants engaged in the following acts or practices: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m) (n) Extorting or attempting to extort money from consumers by falsely threatening them with arrest or suit; Falsely claiming to be investigators affiliated with the state or other government agency; Falsely claiming debts were greater than they were in fact; Falsely claiming that individuals were attorneys or that the collection would be referred to an attorney; Falsely implying that the company calling was a law firm; Falsely threatening to take legal actions that could not legally be taken or that were not intended to be taken; Falsely representing that the consumer committed a crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; Failing to provide meaningful disclosure of their identity as a collection agency; Using false representations or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect debts; Engaging in harassing, oppressive and abusive conduct; Illegally contacting consumers at their place of work; Failing to disclose that the call is to collect a debt; Willfully contacting consumers, their families or their employers with such frequency so as to harass the debtor or the debtor s family; Illegally contacting third parties, such as employers and family members, regarding debts, without prior consent; 24. By undertaking those activities and the others alleged herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON 5

6 PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON have committed acts or practices in trade or commerce which violate Florida law and offend established public policy and are immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, or substantially injurious to consumers, or that cause or are likely to cause consumer injury which is substantial, not be outweighed by any countervailing benefits to consumers or competition that the acts or practices produced, and not an injury that consumers themselves could have reasonably avoided. Thus, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON have engaged in unfair acts or practices within the meaning of Section (1), Fla. Stat. 25. By undertaking the activities described in the preceding paragraphs and the others alleged herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON have engaged in representations, acts, practices or omissions which are material, and which are likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances. Thus, Defendants have engaged in deceptive acts or practices within the meaning of Section (1), Fla. Stat. 26. By undertaking the activities described in the preceding paragraphs and the others alleged herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON have engaged in unconscionable acts or practices in trade or commerce, in violation of Section (1), Fla. Stat. 27. Consumers contacted and harassed by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON are being denied and deprived of their rights under Florida laws, which constitute irreparable harm for the purposes of injunctive relief. Consumers are being illegally harassed with threats of criminal prosecution if they do not 6

7 make payments as demanded by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON. 28. As a proximate result of the unlawful actions of Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON, consumers and others similarly situated continue to suffer the irreparable harm described above for which monetary compensation is inadequate as they are being illegally harassed for payment. 29. The Attorney General, as the enforcing authority, has statutory authority to seek injunctive relief under Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat. WHEREFORE, the Attorney General respectfully requests that the Court enter judgment in its favor for the following relief: a) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON and its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys and those persons in active concert or participation with it who receive actual notice of the injunction, from engaging in the methods, acts or practices alleged herein that are unconscionable acts or practices or deceptive or unfair acts and practices in violation of Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat.; b) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON from engaging in collections activities in the State of Florida pursuant to Sections et seq. and (3), Fla. Stat.; c) Impose penalties of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) per violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat. and civil penalties in the amount of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) for per willful violation which victimized, or attempted to victimize a person who is 60 years of age or older, pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat.; d) Award consumer restitution and damages in an amount to equal the amounts each consumer paid in excess of an amount allowed by law; e) Order the revocation of the Office of Financial Regulation of the Department of Financial Services collections license/registration granted to Defendants BASS, and JACKSON PHILLIPS pursuant to Section (3) and (1), Fla. Stat.; 7

8 f) Order the dissolution of Defendant BASS corporate existence, pursuant to Section (3), Fla. Stat.; g) Enter Judgment declaring Defendants actions and practices unlawful under Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(a), Fla. Stat.; h) Award the Plaintiff costs and attorneys fees pursuant to Sections (1) and , Fla.Stat.; and i) Award any and all such other relief as this Honorable Court deems just, equitable, and proper. COUNT II Violation of Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act, Chapter 559, Part VI, Fla. Stat. Amounts to Per Se Violation of FDUTPA 30. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendant BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and for statutory and actual damages for systematic per se violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat. pursuant to the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act, Chapter 559, Part VI, Fla. Stat. 31. Plaintiff incorporates by reference and re-alleges paragraphs 1 through 15 as if more fully set forth herein. 32. Pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat., an action may be brought for any violation of this part. A violation of this part means any violation of the act, the rules adopted under the act, and may be based on [a]ny law, statute, rule, regulation, or ordinance which proscribes unfair methods of competition, or unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable acts or practices. 33. The Florida Legislature enacted laws, specifically the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, (FCCPA) Chapter 559, to protect the consuming public from unlawful debt collection 8

9 practices. 34. The applicable statute outlines and enumerates some of the proscribed conduct. See , Fla. Stat., wherein the law states in collecting consumer debts, no person shall: (1) Simulate in any manner a law enforcement officer or a representative of any governmental agency; (2) Use or threaten force or violence: (3) Tell a debtor who disputes a consumer debt that she or he or any person employing her or him will disclose to another, orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, information affecting the debtor s reputation for credit worthiness without also informing the debtor that the existence of the dispute will also be disclosed as required by subsection (6); (4) Communicate or threaten to communicate with a debtor s employer prior to obtaining final judgment against the debtor, unless the debtor gives her or his permission in writing to contact her or his employer or acknowledges in writing the existence of the debt after the debt has been placed for collection, but this shall not prohibit a person from telling the debtor that her or his employer will be contacted if a final judgment is obtained; (5) Disclose to a person other than the debtor or her or his family information affecting the debtor s reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge or reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information or that the information is false; (6) Disclose information concerning the existence of a debt known to be reasonably disputed by the debtor without disclosing that fact; (7) Willfully communicate with the debtor or any member of her or his family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to harass the debtor or her or his family, or willfully engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to abuse or harass the debtor or any member of her or his family; (8) Use profane, obscene, vulgar, or willfully abusive language in communicating with the debtor or any member of her or his family; (9) Claim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a debt when such person knows that the debt is not legitimate or assert the existence of some other legal right when such person knows that the right does not exist; 9

10 (10) Use a communication which simulates in any manner legal or judicial process or which gives the appearance of being authorized, issued or approved by a government, governmental agency, or attorney at law, when it is not; (11) Communicate with a debtor under the guise of an attorney by using the stationery of an attorney or forms or instruments which only attorneys are authorized to prepare; (12) Orally communicate with a debtor in such a manner as to give the false impression or appearance that such person is or is associated with an attorney; (13) Advertise or threaten to advertise for sale any debt as a means to enforce payment except under court order or when acting as an assignee for the benefit of a creditor; (14) Publish or post, threaten to publish or post, or cause to be published or posted before the general public individual names or any list of names of debtors, commonly known as a deadbeat list, for the purpose of enforcing or attempting to enforce collection of consumer debts; (15) Refuse to provide adequate identification of herself or himself or her or his employer or other entity whom she or he represents when requested to do so by a debtor from whom she or he is collecting or attempting to collect a consumer debt; (16) Mail any communication to a debtor in an envelope or postcard with words typed, written or printed on the outside of the envelope or postcard calculated to embarrass the debtor; (17) Communicate with the debtor between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the debtor s time zone without the prior consent of the debtor; (18) Communicate with a debtor if a person knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney s name and address, unless the debtor s attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the person, unless the debtor s attorney consents to a direct communication with the debtor, or unless the debtor initiates the communication; or (19) Cause charges to be made to any debtor for communications by concealment of the true purpose of the communication, including collect telephone calls and telegram fees. 35. As demonstrated herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON not only engaged in illegal debt collections from within the State of 10

11 Florida, they violated almost each and every portion of the applicable statute. 36. During the course of their transactions from 2006 through the present, Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS, at the direction of and acting in concert with FRANK JACKSON, and EVELYN JACKSON, engaged in the following acts or practices: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m) (n) (o) Extorting or attempting to extort money from consumers by falsely threatening them with arrest or suit; Falsely claiming to be investigators affiliated with the state or other government agency; Falsely claiming debts were greater than they were in fact; Falsely claiming that individuals were attorneys or that the collection would be referred to an attorney; Falsely implying that the company calling was a law firm; Falsely threatening to take legal actions that could not legally be taken or that were not intended to be taken; Falsely representing that the consumer committed a crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; Failing to provide meaningful disclosure of their identity as a collections agency; Using false representations or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect debts; Engaging in harassing, oppressive and abusive conduct; Illegally contacting consumers at their place of work; Failing to disclose that the call is to collect a debt; Willfully contacting consumers, their families or their employers with such frequency so as to harass the debtor or the debtor s family; Illegally contacting third parties, such as employers and family members, regarding debts, without prior consent; Falsely claiming attorneys fees and court costs to inflate the amount owed. 11

12 37. The FCCPA was enacted to protect consumers from creditors and debt collectors who seek to collect debts through illegal means of threats, intimidation, and coercion. 38. Plaintiff has received numerous sworn complaints from persons who are debtors and consumers within the meaning of (2), Fla. Stat. 39. Defendants claimed these debtors and consumers owed a consumer debt as this phrase is defined by Sections (1) and (2), Fla. Stat. 40. Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON are creditors or debt collectors within the meaning of Section (3) or (6), Fla. Stat. 41. In connection with its debt collection activities, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON contacted consumers and debtors with threats of arrest and criminal prosecution as more particularly described above. 42. Section (9), Fla. Stat., prohibits creditors from asserting the existence of some legal right when such person knows that the right does not exist. 43. Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON knew or should have known that they did not have the right to threaten or pursue criminal prosecution for non-payment of any debt. Further, Defendants BASS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON did not have the right to require payment on the same day or of exorbitant amounts of money over the original amount owed. 44. The collection practices of Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON described above violate the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act, Section , Fla. Stat., et. seq. 12

13 45. As a result of the above-referenced violations of the Act, consumers and debtors continue to be subjected to unwarranted and illegal collection activities and, therefore, have been harmed. 46. By undertaking the activities described in the preceding paragraphs and the others alleged herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON have violated the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act, Chapter 559, Part VI, Fla. Stat., ( FCCPA ), and hence engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices that constitute a per se violation of Section Fla. Stat. 47. The Attorney General, as enforcing authority, has statutory authority to seek injunctive relief under Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat. 48. Consumers contacted and harassed by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON are being denied and deprived of their rights under Florida laws, which constitute irreparable harm for the purposes of injunctive relief. 49. Consumers are being illegally harassed with threats of criminal prosecution if they do not make payments as demanded by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON. 50. As a proximate result of the unlawful actions of Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON, consumers and others similarly situated continue to suffer the irreparable harm described above for which monetary compensation is inadequate as they are being illegally harassed for payment. WHEREFORE, the Attorney General respectfully requests that the Court enter judgment in its favor for the following relief: 13

14 a) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON and their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys and those persons in active concert or participation with it who receive actual notice of the injunction, from engaging in the methods, acts or practices alleged herein that are unconscionable acts or practices or deceptive or unfair acts and practices in violation of Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat.; b) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON from engaging in collections activities in the State of Florida pursuant to Sections et seq. and (3), Fla. Stat.; c) Impose penalties of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) per violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat. and civil penalties in the amount of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) for per willful violation which victimized, or attempted to victimize a person who is 60 years of age or older, pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat.; d) Award consumer restitution and damages in an amount to equal the amounts each consumer paid in excess of an amount allowed by law; e) Order the revocation of the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission collections license/registration granted to Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS, pursuant to Section (3) and (1), Fla. Stat.; f) Order the dissolution of Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS corporate existence, pursuant to Section (3), Fla. Stat.; g) Enter Judgment declaring Defendants actions and practices unlawful under Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(a), Fla. Stat.; h) Award the Plaintiff costs and attorneys fees pursuant to Sections (1) and , Fla. Stat.; and i) Award any and all such other relief as this Honorable Court deems just, equitable, and proper. COUNT III Violation of the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692 Amounts to a Per Se Violation of FDUTPA. 14

15 51. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and for statutory and actual damages for systematic per se violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section Plaintiff incorporates by reference and re-alleges paragraphs 1 through 15 as if more fully set forth herein. 53. Pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat., an action may be brought for any violation of this part. A violation of this part means any violation of the act, the rules adopted under the act, and may be based on [a]ny law, statute, rule, regulation, or ordinance which proscribes unfair methods of competition, or unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable acts or practices. 54. The United States Congress enacted laws, specifically the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, (FDCPA), to protect the consuming public from unlawful debt collection practices. 55. The Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692c, states in communicating with the consumer in collecting consumer debts: (a.) Without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt - (1) at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should have known to be inconvenient for the consumer; (2) if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney s name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer; or (3) at the consumer s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has 15

16 reason to know that the consumer s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communications. (b.) Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector, or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, or as reasonably necessary to effectuate a postjudgment judicial remedy, a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector. 56. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692d, states in collecting consumer debts: A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of the debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section: 1. The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person. 2. The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader. 3. The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency. 4. The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt. 5. Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number. 6. Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller s identity. 57. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692e, further states in collecting consumer debts: A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means 16

17 in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section: (1) The false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof. (2) The false representation of - (A) (B) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt. (3) The false representation or implication that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney. (4) The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action. (5) The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken. (6) The false representation or implication that a sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the consumer to - (A) (B) lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt, or become subject to any practice prohibited by this sub-chapter. (7) The false representation or implication that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer. (8) Communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed. (9) The use or distribution of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval. 17

18 (10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer. (11) The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information will be used for that purpose. (12) The false representation or implication that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value. (13) The false representation or implication that documents are legal process. (14) The use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector s business, company or organization. (15) The false representation or implication that documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer. (16) The false representation or implication that a debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency. 58. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692f, further states in collecting consumer debts: A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section: 1. The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law. 59. As demonstrated herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON engaged in illegal debt collections from Florida. 60. During the course of those transactions, Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS, at the direction of and acting in concert with Defendants FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON engaged in the following acts or practices: 18

19 (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m) (n) (o) Extorting or attempting to extort money from consumers by falsely threatening them with arrest or suit; Falsely claiming to be investigators affiliated with the state or other government agency; Falsely claiming debts were greater than they were in fact; Falsely claiming that individuals were attorneys or that the collection would be referred to an attorney; Falsely implying that the company calling was a law firm; Falsely threatening to take legal actions that could not legally be taken or that were not intended to be taken.; Falsely representing that the consumer committed a crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer; Failing to provide meaningful disclosure of their identity as a collections agency; Using false representations or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect debts; Engaging in harassing, oppressive and abusive conduct; Illegally contacting consumers at their place of work; Failing to disclose that the call is to collect a debt; Willfully contacting consumers, their families or their employers with such frequency so as to harass the debtor or the debtor s family; Illegally contacting third parties, such as employers and family members, regarding debts, without prior consent; Falsely claiming attorneys fees and court costs to inflate the amount owed. 61. By undertaking the activities described in the preceding paragraphs and the others alleged herein, Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON have violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section

20 et seq., and hence engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices that violate Section Fla. Stat. 62. The Attorney General, as enforcing authority, has statutory authority to seek injunctive relief under Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat. 63. Consumers contacted and harassed by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON are being denied and deprived of their rights under Florida laws, which constitute irreparable harm for the purposes of injunctive relief. Consumers are being illegally harassed with threats of criminal prosecution of they do not make payments as demanded by Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON. 64. As a proximate result of the unlawful actions of Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON, consumers and others similarly situated continue to suffer the irreparable harm described above for which monetary compensation is inadequate as they are being illegally harassed for payment. WHEREFORE, the Attorney General respectfully requests that the Court enter judgment in its favor for the following relief: a) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON and their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys and those persons in active concert or participation with it who receive actual notice of the injunction, from engaging in the methods, acts or practices alleged herein that are unconscionable acts or practices or deceptive or unfair acts and practices in violation of Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(b), Fla. Stat.; b) Permanently enjoin Defendants BASS, JACKSON PHILLIPS, FRANK JACKSON and EVELYN JACKSON from engaging in collections activities in the State of 20

21 Florida pursuant to Sections et seq. and (3), Fla. Stat.; c) Impose penalties of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) per violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat. and civil penalties in the amount of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) for per willful violation which victimized, or attempted to victimize a person who is 60 years of age or older, pursuant to Section , Fla. Stat.; d) Award consumer restitution and damages in an amount to equal the amounts each consumer paid in excess of an amount allowed by law; e) Order the revocation of the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission collections license/registration granted to Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS, pursuant to Section (3) and (1), Fla. Stat.; f) Order the dissolution of Defendants BASS and JACKSON PHILLIPS corporate existence, pursuant to Section (3), Fla. Stat.; g) Enter Judgment declaring Defendants actions and practices unlawful under Chapter 501, Part II, Fla. Stat., pursuant to Section (1)(a), Fla. Stat.; h) Award the Plaintiff costs and attorneys fees pursuant to Sections (1) and , Fla. Stat.; and i) Award any and all such other relief as this Honorable Court deems just, equitable, and proper. Respectfully submitted, BILL McCOLLUM ATTORNEY GENERAL James D. Young Assistant Attorney General Florida Bar No Office of the Attorney General 1300 Riverplace Blvd., Suite 405 Jacksonville, Florida Tel:(904) Fax: (904)

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