Source : ABC News
Two years ago, a debt collector with a company called Reliant Financial Associates, or RFA, left a message implying that her house was in jeopardy if she didn’t pay a debt. The message stated:
“I’m calling in regards to a preliminary asset liability investigation. They are in the process of serving some court documents in regards to case 29369… They have some information now pending questions at the property,… Springdale Avenue, in Wheeling, West Virginia. It is in your best interests to contact the department. You are required to contact 866-764-9779.”
Mey wrote RFA a cease and desist letter, telling the company not to contact her anymore, and sent it certified mail. Postal records show exactly when RFA signed for it. Precisely 23 minutes later, Mey started getting mysterious hang-up calls that showed up on her caller ID as coming from her local county government.
“So I called the number back and it was the sheriff’s department. And I asked if someone there was trying to reach me. And they said, no – nobody there was trying to reach me,” Mey said.
After two days of hang-up calls from that sheriff’s department number, Mey picked up another one with that same caller ID. The man on the line repeatedly called her a vulgar name for the female anatomy. He described violent sexual acts he would like to subject her to and asked 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. “I pulled myself together and I thought, I can get through this. Just keep on talking buddy because we’re gonna get plenty of your voice on tape.”
The verbal assault went on for nearly two minutes before the man hung up.
You see, Diana Mey has battled big companies over intrusive phone calls before. In 1999, she won a class action lawsuit against a major telemarketer whose salesmen kept calling people, even when asked to stop. People magazine named her one of the “Most Intriguing People of the Year.” That’s why Mey has recorded her phone calls ever since.
Mey says it took her a year to find attorneys who would sue on her behalf. Wheeling lawyers Martin Sheehan and Patrick Cassidy took the case knowing they would probably never get paid.
“Yes, I like to make money, ” Sheehan said, “but at some level there’s something so atrocious you have to let people come into your office and say — that’s wrong and I’m going to do something about it.”
Last May, Mey sued RFA for harassment and illegal collection practices. In August, RFA’s lawyer failed to show up in court, so Mey testified unopposed. The judge called RFA’s actions “malicious” and ruled that all of the allegations were true. And then he awarded that record judgment of $10,860,000.