Say I'm a collector and want to make money fraudulently. I find someone with a debt, claim it has not been paid, and instead of serving them find a fake address in a random state and do a "nail and mail" service. Then, they never appear in court so I get a default judgment. At what stage is this most likely to fail first?

My guesses are

  1. If they never appear in court do the police look for them on contempt of court then find nobody is at that address?

  2. Does the court do any background checking to see if the address is correct?

  3. Does it work and I get the judgment but then the debtor files a counter suit when their funds are seized?

I am guessing (3) is most likely where it fails but this seems very late in the process. Does the court do any diligence to ensure the service actually happened?

  • 1
    I'm not sure this is on topic here. You are asking how somebody committing a fraud can be caught, not about law or the legal process. If you want to create and perpetuate a fraud, using the court system to create a paper trail of that fraud sounds resoundingly stupid. There's quite a few ways you can get caught, but serving up all the evidence for your trial in court records would make for good TV comedy...
    – Ron Beyer
    May 6 '20 at 4:18
  • 3
    You do know you have to file an Affidavit of Service before you get your judgement? Lying in an affidavit is perjury.
    – Dale M
    May 6 '20 at 5:17

Deterrence, not prevention

What stops people from doing this is the certainty of getting caught and the severity of punishment.

Yes, the counterclaims will likely arrive too late, after you have gotten some money. However, the reaction will not stop at civil countersuits, since by doing this you will have commited multiple felonies and provided ample clear evidence of them. So the thing that stops it is that most reasonable people will consider that temporary possession of not-that-large sums of money are not worth the resulting years in jail.

People generally commit fraud because they expect to get away with it and not get caught - this is not a scenario where getting away with it is plausible.

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