Debt collector convicted of masquerading as 'legal consultant'
The owner of a debt collection company obtained templates of legal letters from the internet and modified them for business purposes from 2013 to 2015, a court heard.
At the State Courts on Monday (26 November), 52-year-old Tan Kian Tiong pleaded guilty to 60 charges, 40 under the Legal Profession Act and 20 under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act.
Another 756 charges under the former Act and 327 under the latter Act will be taken into consideration when Tan is sentenced at a later date.
The court heard that Tan was the sole proprietor of Double Ace Associates, which engages in debt collection services.
The firm would engage clients who wanted to have their debtors repay their debts. It would charge a 30 per cent commission for the successful recovery of debts. Some clients would be charged a service fee to cover transport and other expenses.
As part of his firm’s business, Tan would send letters of demand to alleged debtors of clients. He got the template for these legal letters from the internet and made modifications. He also referred to copies of actual letters of demand sent by various law firms.
In the letters of demand sent out by the firm, under Tan’s instruction to his staff, the template stated that Double Ace Associates “acted for” a client, and that the firm was “instructed” that there was a sum of money “due and owning” from the alleged debtor to the client. The recipients were asked to make payments within seven days to “avoid legal action from being taken by our client”.
The letterheads would feature the words “Legal Consultants” immediately under the words “Double Ace Associates LLP”. However, Double Ace Associates was neither a law firm nor a Limited Liability Partnership.