A Swansea man is seeking more than $1 million in two suits he filed against debt collectors, alleging the collection agencies repeatedly contacted him in an attempt to collect non-existent debts or debts that had previously been settled.

In his first complaint, Roger Benson alleges defendant Midland Credit Management wrote him on Jan. 8, claiming that he owed $12,376.85 for a debt originating with Aspire Visa. Midland continued to write Benson between Jan. 8 through Feb. 15, attempting to collect his debt, according to the complaint filed July 13 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

On Feb. 19, Benson responded to the letters, requesting validation of the alleged debt, the suit states.

"Defendant did not provide validation or verification of the alleged debt, and did not respond to Plaintiff's February 19, 2010, letter," the complaint says. "Any alleged debt the Defendant was seeking to collect through its letters attached hereto as Exhibits A and B either did not exist or was barred by the statute of limitations."

In responding to the letters and in filing suit, Benson claims he incurred more than $30,000 in attorneys' fees and has experienced emotional distress.

In his second complaint, Benson claims defendant Encore Receivables Management demanded payment on a Washington Mutual Card Services account. However, Benson had already settled the debt owed to Washington Mutual after sending it a money order for $20.00, which Washington Mutual accepted, according to the complaint.

After receiving the letter from Encore, Benson disputed the validity of the debt it was attempting to collect in a letter he sent on Feb. 22, the suit states.

But Encore never responded to Benson's letters, refusing to validate the debt it claimed he owed, the complaint says.

In March, Benson claims he began receiving letters from defendants Michael D. Johnson and Gustel Staloch and Chargo, informing him he was indebted to defendant Equable Ascent Financial, who was attempting to collect debt for Chase -- the successor of Washington Mutual.

Again in May, Benson began receiving letters from defendant Josh E. McHughes of defendant The McHughes Law Firm about his debt to Equable, according to the complaint.

Both times, Benson wrote letters disputing the validity of the debt, but again received no responses, according to the complaint.

In pursuing his second lawsuit, Benson claims he incurred more than $25,000 in attorney's fees. In addition, he says he deserves $1,000 for each of Encore's violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

He says all the defending collection agencies and law firms violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by failing to provide validation or verification of the debt, by demanding payment of a non-existent debt, by demanding payment of a debt barred by the statute of limitations and by failing to respond to his letter.

In his first two-count complaint, Benson is seeking compensatory damages of more than $124,000 and punitive damages of more than $100,000, plus $30,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

In his second four-count complaint, Benson is seeking compensatory damages of more than $212,000 and punitive damages of more than $600,000, plus $25,000 in attorney's fees and costs.

David M. Duree of David M. Duree and Associates in O'Fallon will be representing him in both suits.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers: 10-L-358, 10-L-359.

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