Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 25, 2012

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A West Virginian woman has turned the tables on a notorious personal loan debt collector and is now seeking to collect the largest court-ordered judgment that has ever been made against a debt collection agency: nearly $11 million.

Diana Mey, of Wheeling W. Va., claimed she filed suit against Reliant Financial Associates, also called RFA, due to an abusive and threatening phone call that the personal loan collector made to her home. Despite winning the suit, however, she has yet to receive payment.

“I don’t know that I’ll ever collect a dime, but if I can get their operation shut down, that would make me very happy,” she told ABC Nightline.

Two years ago, RFA called Mey claiming that her house was in jeopardy if she didn’t repay her alleged debt on a personal loan.

There was just one problem: Mey had absolutely no debt.

“They threatened to take legal action against our property and it wasn’t even our debt,” explained Mey to Nightline.

Mey wrote RFA a cease and desist letter, demanding that RFA stop contacting her. The letter was sent by certified mail, and postal records showed that RFA received and signed for the letter. Then, exactly 23 minutes after that signature was obtained, Mey received another phone call.

The call was ID’d from her local county government, so she answered the phone, but the caller immediately hung up.

“So I called the number back and it was the sheriff’s department,” Mey said in the Nightline interview. “And I asked if someone there was trying to reach me. And they said, no — nobody there was trying to reach me.”

But the calls from the sheriff’s department continued, and Mey continued to pick up only to find the other end of the line dead.

Finally, the caller spoke. He called her vulgar names and described violent sexual acts he would like to do to her, even asking her if she liked to be “gang banged.”

“I was so frightened. I felt violated, but then I realized, you know, I’m taping this call,” Mey said in the Nightline interview. “I pulled myself together and I thought, I can get through this. Just keep on taling buddy because we’re gonna get plenty of your voice on tape.”

After the caller hung up, Mey immediately called 911, locked her door, got her husband’s gun from the dresser and waited for help.

When she first received the call, Mey said she didn’t make the connection between the caller and the personal loan debt collectors, but she later learned that the call didn’t actually come from the sheriff’s local number. The caller ID had been masked through a process called “spoofing,” and was only made to appear as if it came from the sheriff’s department. When Mey researched her experience online, she found others had encountered similar experiences that traced back to the RFA personal loan collectors.

Mey sought the help of attorneys Martin Sheehan and Patrick Cassidy, and the trio pursued RFA in court. After the judge called RFA’s actions “malicious,” he awarded the record ruling of $10,860,000.

While RFA hasn’t paid the judgment and the personal loan debt collector who made the sexual threats has yet to be identified, Mey is still happy with the results of the court ruling.

“I hope that it sends a message to other debt collectors out there that you have to follow the law,” concluded Mey. “Because if you don’t there are going to be people out there that are going to stand up against you.”