DALLAS (CBS11 I-TEAM) – Nearly 500 people nationwide are cashing checks from two well-known credit companies. Consumers claimed LowerMyBills.com and Experian helped destroy their credit.

It’s a story the CBS11 I-Team has been following for more than five years. CBS11 first got the call from George Spray, an 82-year-old man, who said a Dallas company took his money and ran.

George Spray (CBS11)

Digging into it, the I-Team realized Spray was one of more than 3,000 people nationwide making this claim. They all said Credit Alliance Group, a debt management company which the I-Team tracked down in a downtown Dallas high rise, took their money also. It claimed to have offices all over the country according to its website which Spray and others says made it seem credible.

But Spray also says an email made him trust the Dallas company. He says the email was from LowerMyBills.Com. Other consumers claimed to receive emails from Experian referring them to Credit Alliance Group. Both LowerMyBills.com and Experian were owned by the same company at the time.

The I-Team followed the case as the state of Texas and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court pursued Credit Alliance Group.

But recently, Spray and nearly 500 consumers nationwide also filed a class action lawsuit against LowerMyBill.com and Experian. And, they won.

And now, Spray and those consumers are receiving their checks from the two-million dollar settlement.

Experian check to George Spray (CBS11)

Attorneys Edward H. Nicholson, Jr. and Andrew J. Schwaba represented Spray and the others. They told the I-Team “…The $2 million paid out to 483 victims comes out to an average of about $4,141 per person. Each class member received just under 60 percent of the out-of-pocket loss.”

They sent the I-Team the following statement:

“As a general matter, and as you often warn your viewers, consumers need to be wary of entities that prey on people in need of financial help. A deal that seems almost too good to be true usually is. This case was an especially tough one for consumers, for two reasons. First, the consumer who needs the help of credit repair organizations such as CAG is by definition in financial distress, desperate to find an immediate solution to unpaid bills and mortgage obligations. Second, consumers let down their guard because CAG operated under the appearance of legitimacy provided by its claim to be affiliated with large, well-known companies who in fact provided links to CAG on their websites. Obviously, we hope that being forced to defend lawsuits based on the predatory practices of their business partners will cause trusted, established companies to do a better job of screening potential partners.

From the time just after we first sued CAG, through the settlement of the class action against Experian and LowerMyBills, we have cooperated with the consumer protection division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. We hope the message to the predators themselves is that if they go after consumers like George Spray, there are both civil attorneys and regulators who will pursue them with an eye to shutting down their schemes and obtaining compensation for their victims.

…Whenever there is a crime against a group of people, there is a net loss to society that isn’t made up in its entirety. But in this case, where the crooked scheme has been shut down, the perpetrator disgraced and forced into bankruptcy, and entities that referred George and others to the perpetrator have become obligated to compensate them for their loss, there has been justice.”

Years after the I-Team first met George Spray, he tells CBS11 he’s back on his feet financially and thankful he fought this long fight.

“When I originally contacted you, it wasn’t to get on camera or anything. It was to start something and see if we could bring this thing to a close and I think we did. I think I won and I think a lot of other people did too you know,” says Spray.

Experian told the I-Team it had no comment.

LowerMyBills.com did not respond.