In Brown v. International Asset Group, LLC, 2012 WL 6002512 (S.D.Ohio 2012), Judge Black found that a debt collector that falsely held itself out on the internet as a Legal-aid service for low income debtors violated the FDCPA.
Plaintiff, a resident of Piqua, Ohio, conducted a web search for free legal aid services in March 2012, and logged on to the website of Legal Service Corporation (“LSC”) at the web address www.lsc.gov. LSC states on its website that it is “the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation.” Plaintiff called a telephone number ob-tained through the LSC website and left a voice message requesting free legal advice relating to debt col-lector practices. Plaintiff was informed a representative would return her call. ¶ On or about the afternoon of March 7, 2012, an agent-employee of Defendant, identifying himself as Dave Segal, placed a call to Plaintiff. Segal stated that he was calling regarding the Plaintiff’s earlier telephone request for attorney assistance with debt collector practices. Segal claimed that he was an attorney from a free legal aid service and requested personal identifying information from Plaintiff, including her social security number and her husband’s employment information. Believing that Segal was an attorney from a legal aid service, Plaintiff provided this in-formation to Segal. ¶ Segal then asked about an account of Plaintiff’s that was allegedly due and owing from H.H. Gregg. Believing Segal to be an attorney from a legal aid service, Plaintiff discussed this account with Segal and he provided her with certain claimed legal opinions about the account, its status and handling. ¶ At the end of the telephone conversation, Segal revealed that he was, in fact, a debt collector of Defendant, that Defendant was hired to collect the allegedly owed H.H. Gregg account, and, while laughing, told Plaintiff she should not have provided Segal with her husband’s employment information. Segal then informed Plaintiff that she must make arrangements to pay on the debt on or before March 27, 2012, or that a judgment would be placed against her. During a later telephone conversation, Segal and/or his superior, identifying himself as Joseph Lane, claimed that they worked for a company identified as Legal Outsourcing. ¶ Defendant impersonated, implied, and held itself out as attorneys affiliated with a government legal aid service, when, in fact, Defendant was not a law firm and was engaged in the practice of consumer debt collection. Defendant failed to immediately provide Plaintiff with lawfully required warnings that she was speaking with a debt collector and that any information obtained would be used in collection of a debt. Defendant’s conduct, and that of its employees, was undertaken with the intent of harassing, annoying and misleading Plaintiff in connection with Defendant’s attempts to coerce payment on the alleged consumer debt.