Threatening letters mailed to St. Louisans in illegal debt-colle - KMOV.com

Threatening letters mailed to St. Louisans in illegal debt-collector scheme

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

It's a threatening letter and it's being sent to residents around St. Louis. 

Cynthia Terry received the letter from Chas, Derk and Lee LLC, it accused her of cashing a counterfeit check. 

The letter uses strong language including phrases like "first-degree robbery charges" and "we can only assume you are guilty as charge" (SIC)

Terry says the man who sent the letter referred to himself as Steve Scott. 

"I been crying, crying thinking the man is going to come and do something to me," said Terry. 

Terry says the check was in her name and she doesn't understand how a state-issued check could be considered counterfeit. 

The letter from Chas, Derk and Lee LLC says Terry can "avoid criminal prosecution" by paying $452.50

"He's violating a number of laws. He's violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but he's also impersonating a prosecutor. He is breaking laws," according to Rob Swearingen of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri

Swearingen's office has received several similar complaints regarding Chas, Derk and Lee LLC. 

The complaints date back several years.

News 4 Investigates has also received similar complaints dating back to 2013. 

In 2014 the man behind the company used the name 'Anthony James'. 

On two separate occasions, one in 2014 and another in October of this year, the man that showed up to collect money from recipients of the letter was actually a man named Randall Lang.  

During an attempt to collect money from Cynthia Terry Lang stated his name was Steve Scott. 

News 4 Investigates attempted to speak with Lang when he arrived at Terry's apartment, but Lang dodged questions while walking up and down several flights of stairs inside Terry's apartment building.

As Lang walked away he stated, "Don't go there." 

At one point Lang attempted to conceal his identity by pulling a shirt over his head. 

According to attorney Rob Swearingen, "It's a shakedown. He's a rogue debt collector that's been operating for more than 5 years. He is victimizing the weakest, most vulnerable, most unsophisticated people in our community." 

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act outlines rules debt collectors must follow. 

The federal rules clearly state debt collectors can't imply non-payment of any debt will result in arrest or imprisonment. 

(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.

Cynthia Terry says Lang, who went by Scott, told her he would bring the police to her home. 

News 4 Investigates could not locate any business registered in the state of Missouri operating under the name Chas, Derk and Lee LLC. 

In May of 2017 the St. Louis BBB issued a warning about Lang and his company Chas, Derk and Lee LLC. 

If you received correspondence from Lang, his company, or paid him any money related to debt collection contact Investigative Reporter Chris Nagus

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