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Deceased Womans Name Was Robo-Signed on Thousands of Affidavits

In 2008, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. was sued for fraud after affidavits were submitted bearing the name of Martha Kunkle, who died in 1995.

It appears that Martha Kunkle has come back to life. Last July, lawyers for Portfolio Recovery Associates sought judgment in a lawsuit against a Seattle woman for $2,892.10 in credit-card debt and interest that she allegedly owed. It was a fairly standard debt-collection case except that Portfolio included an affidavit signed by Martha Kunkle to vouch for the debt’s validity.

A spokeswoman for Portfolio Recovery said the document was “inadvertently used by our outside counsel” because of “human error,” adding that the suit was dropped later “upon review of the case.” She also stated that Mrs. Kunkle’s name does not appear on any other affidavits submitted in other cases.

This practice of robo-signing, in which affidavits are signed without fully reviewing underlying documentation, is more common in debt-collection cases than foreclosures.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is investigating numerous debt buyers debt collectors for this practice of falsifying affidavits. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he wants to investigate whether Martha Kunkle’s name appears on any affidavits used to collect debt in the state of Missouri.

Concerns about Ms. Kunkle’s affidavits were raised in 2008 by lawyers for Jeanie Cole, one of thousands of Montana residents sued by Portfolio Recovery Associates to collect debts. After failing to locate Ms. Kunkle, lawyers for Ms. Cole interviewed her daughter, who worked at Providian in a document-processing division. Providian National Corp, a credit-card issuer, sold a number of delinquent account balances to Portfolio Recovery Associates and other debt collectors, which then sued the borrowers to collect the debt.

The daughter testified in a deposition that other Providian employees used the name Martha Kunkle when signing affidavits. Along with other employees, the daughter was responsible for signing affidavits. After counter suing Portfolio Recovery Associates for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Ms. Cole was the lead plaintiff in a 2008 federal-court suit in Montana alleging the company targeted 16,000 borrowers using “false and misleading” affidavits.

Article Source: Dead Soul Is a Debt Collector

Comments 4 Comments

  1. What a story. It really shows that people should be diligent in reviewing dunning letters that are suspicious. If a person suspects that a debt is not theirs, they should investigate it. Coudos to the Ms. Cole, the defendant, or shall I say plaintiff, that uncovered this fraud.

      Comment by Debt collection abuse attorney Massachusetts, George E. Bourguignon, Jr. on January 9th, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    • A zombie story about a zombie debt collector..But hey its a good story. Consumer law doesn’t get much cooler. Like most debt buyers Portfolio Recovery Associates had weak evidence or none at all to back up its thousands of lawsuits so an enterprising employee started signing Martha Kunkles name to affidavits. That may not be the end of it since Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says her office is looking into debt buyers who are falsifying affidavits in Minnesota.

        Comment by Hilda on February 9th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      • They got caught this time but they’ve used robo signed affidavits in almost all of their lawsuits and as long as Kinkles signature isn’t on it the courts will accept them … so why should they stop using these robo signed affidavits?

          Comment by Thomas on March 15th, 2011 at 11:57 am

        • Junk Debt Buyers and Original Creditors do it all the time!! My question is why aren’t courts across the country purging their files of affidavits with Martha Kunkle’s name on them and vacating the judgments WITH DAMAGES to the debtors??
          What a bull shit system we live under.

            Comment by JD on April 26th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

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