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Kimberly Houk ReportingA non-profit company that helps a lot of Utahns with money troubles has big money troubles of its own. The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Utah has been around for more than 40 years helping people avoid bankruptcy and get out of debt. But now state investigators say the company did not disperse money from the trust account last month to pay consumer debts on behalf of its clients.
Today the state was granted a restraining order against the Consumer Credit Counseling Service and President and Chief Executive Officer Scott McCagno, the man they say is responsible for all the business' financial transactions.
The service ran like this -- a person in financial trouble would go and get credit counseling. They would then give the company enough money every month to pay on their debts. That money would go into a trust account and the company would make the payments to the client's creditors.
But last month, that did not happen. And now 1400 people may be at some risk of losing the money they gave to the Credit Counseling Service.
Francine Giani, Utah Division of Consumer Protection: "We're in the process now of finding out where the money went and why checks have been bouncing. Hopefully over the next few days, we'll be able to determine that."
In papers filed with the court, the state says the trust account was $64,000 dollars in the red. About 300 checks paid out to clients’ debtors bounced, creating additional fees.
McCagno has claimed in newspaper reports that "illegal bank fees" were the reason the accounts were depleted. The court papers go on to say that company employees say McCagno transferred money from the trust account to pay for payroll shortfalls, personal transactions, and other businesses he operates. He also drove a 2000 BMW that the court papers claim the company paid for.
The court has stopped Scott McCagno from continuing to accept monthly payments from consumers and making payments to creditors on their behalf.