NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 I-TEAM) – Nearly 1,000 consumers will soon receive a check from the United States Bankruptcy Court, and two well-known national companies have agreed to a multi-million settlement in connection with this case.
It’s all part of an investigation the CBS 11 I-Team began back in 2012 when we first met now 87-year-old George Spray. At the time, he told us he had more debt than he ever thought he could pay off. “I’d be homeless without my friends,” said Spray six years ago.
Spray had turned to Credit Alliance Group, a Dallas-based debt management company, which claimed to have offices all over the country. He signed a contract and agreed to a payment plan to help get him out of debt. The company promised to pay back Spray’s creditors. “They took the money and most of it, they kept,” said Spray.
And then the I-Team learned Spray was not alone. Other consumers from all over the country started contacting us saying Credit Alliance Group had their money also and never resolved their debts. “I’m still paying off credit cards,” others told us.
At the time, we found Credit Alliance Group’s CEO Shane Garner in his downtown high rise. He told us to come back to talk to us more later, but he never met with us again.
The I-Team did find him on social media tweeting a picture of himself with his new sports car claiming to be “spoiled” in the attached text.
Today Spray tells us, “He (Garner) was spoiled. He was sure happy everyone was paying him so he could live high on the hog.”
The state of Texas heard Spray’s story through our reports, eventually discovering he was one of more than 3000 customers it said were mislead. The state ordered the company to pay $35 million dollars back to consumers, but Garner had disappeared. Nothing was collected — until now.
“I am number 328 out of 800,” said Spray, combing through paperwork he just received from the federal court. Spray and more than 800 others just received a notice from the U.S. Bankruptcy court. He’s finally getting a little money back.
“My claim was for $849.49, and i’m going to get $25.23 . I might go to McDonalds, “said Spray laughing and reviewing the documents.
But Spray said this is about much more than money. This is a moral victory to him. “It’s also good. We’ve closed this outfit down and nobody else can get stuck with it.”
And the I-Team has learned this is not over. A second round of bills may soon be distributed. Many customers claim they were referred to the Dallas-based company by LowerMyBills.com and Experian Services Corp. Both companies were owned by the same company at the time consumers claim they were ripped off.
In this just-reached settlement, the two have agreed to pay some of the customers more than $2 million.
You must opt into the suit to qualify for money back. Spray has done just that. He’s hoping another check may be in the mail soon.