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BREAKING NEWS

AG Hawley Announces Restitution for Missourians and Civil Penalties in Case Against St. Louis Bankruptcy Business


Apr 6, 2017, 09:31 AM
DateTime:
Apr 6, 2017, 09:29 AM

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has reached agreement with St. Louis bankruptcy services provider, Critique Services, and its owner Beverly Diltz to resolve litigation alleging that Critique Services and Diltz defrauded Missouri consumers in the purchase of bankruptcy services. Under the Consent Judgment entered Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in St. Louis County Court, Critique Services and Diltz must repay over $90,000 in restitution to over 150 of its former clients and civil penalties of $25,000. The Consent Judgment also shuts the business down permanently and bars Critique Services and Diltz from advertising, offering, or performing bankruptcy services in Missouri again. 

The lawsuit, filed in March 2016, alleged that Critique Services and Diltz violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, by, among other things, failing to provide promised bankruptcy services or performing them so poorly as to be worthless or even harmful. After clients paid Critique Services, weeks or months went by with no action on their bankruptcy cases, and clients’ phone calls and visits to the office went ignored. Critique Services also failed to file necessary documents with the bankruptcy court, and numerous cases were dismissed without a discharge of debts. As a result, their clients suffered wage garnishment, utility disconnection, vehicle repossession, and home eviction, among other harm.

Significantly, the Consent Judgment also provides restitution for consumers who file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office within 90 days of the entry of the Consent Judgment, by June 27, 2017. The Attorney General’s Office urges Missourians who paid Critique Services but did not receive promised services to file a complaint with us. If you already filed a complaint with us, please contact us if you need to update your contact information.

“The resolution of this lawsuit shows that my office has the back of the hundreds of Missourians that came to us for help,” said Hawley. “Let this be a warning to those who would prey on vulnerable communities and exploit the bankruptcy system: we remain vigilant.”

Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Schlotzhauer and Michelle Hinkl were responsible for litigating this case and negotiating the resolution. This case represents a collaborative effort with the United States Trustee’s Office to root out fraud in the bankruptcy courts.

Missourians may file a complaint by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or by visiting https://ago.mo.gov/app/consumercomplaint online.