This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
An arrest warrant has been issued for a former Utah County man who has been charged with 12 felonies for allegedly taking at least $200,000 from victims after touting himself as a wealthy debt collector.
Judge John Paul Kennedy set bail at $100,000 for Joshua Thomas Pryor after 12 criminal charges of communications fraud and one count of conducting a pattern of unlawful activity were filed in 3rd District Court in West Jordan.
Pryor had been a Saratoga Springs resident but lives in Mesa, Ariz., according to court documents. Charging documents list six victims who lost a total of $201,000 to Pryor.
"Pryor claimed to get a discounted rate for his purchases due to the large volume of debt purchased," Rex R. Ashdown Jr., an investigator for the Attorney General's Office, said in an affidavit accompanying the charges. "Pryor offered assistance for contacts to break into the business by purchasing a portfolio of bad debt through his broker, in his name, on behalf of the contacts, thereby enabling them to take advantage of his reduced rate."
Pryor, according to the affidavit, said he purchased credit card debt at as low as 10 percent of its value then made collections well over the price he paid. He offered to sell debts to his victims, which supposedly would allow them to make large returns. He also offered to get several victims' personal credit card debt erased for only 10 percent of what they owed, court records show.
Pryor apparently had worked for a debt collection agency, making collection calls in 2005 and 2006, but had never owned a company.
After passing himself off as a retired millionaire to golf partners and others, documents allege, Pryor sold his victims preview copies of debt from a company that buys and resells bad debt. But Pryor never delivered complete portfolios with information needed to collect.
In one case, two brothers paid Pryor $40,000 for two portfolios, according to court documents. Then Pryor told them they had violated federal debt collection laws and that he could settle their case for $20,000. They paid him that amount and then several thousand more to "scrub" their portfolios so they could be resold. All together they lost $64,000.
Other purchasers allege they discovered that Pryor had sold them many of the same bad debts as he had peddled to others. When they called the company that supposedly sold the debt to Pryor, they were told he had purchased only preview copies but not portfolios that contained legal title to the debt.