Texas-based debt collection companies Turtle Creek Assets Ltd

The N.C. Attorney General’s office said Tuesday it has won a consent judgment against Cornelius resident Gordon Scott Engle and his Texas-based debt collection companies Turtle Creek Assets Ltd., Turtle Creek Rentals LLC and Royal Park Holdings Inc.

The settlement includes the companies forgiving $22.93 million in consumer debt for more than 20,000 people, as well as full refunds of a combined $223,018.98 to more than 650 people.

Attorney General Josh Stein sued the defendants in 2019, alleging they were conducting illegal debt collection practices. From 2012 to 2018, Engle used his debt collection companies to purchase unpaid consumer debt from Aarons Inc., a national corporation that sells rent-to-own household furniture, appliances, and electronics.

Since 2018, Engle collected or attempted to collect on these unpaid debts from North Carolina consumers, even though he did not have the correct registration or permits to operate in the state.

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Defendants allegedly sent customers simulated court notices that were not from the court and claimed they had committed a criminal violation by failing to return rented property and needed to return the property in 48 hours. When consumers contacted TCA or TCR, they received more debt collection threats, including threats of arrest.