Barry S. Sussman was a debt collector. Early in his career, he impersonated an FBI agent to give some oomph to his demands.
He put his time in federal prison to good use, dreaming up a new system of debt collection that, he was sure, would keep him out of the reach of the law. Upon his release, he formed Check Investors Inc. and began buying returned checks from check-processing companies. These were bounced checks that had already gone through two rounds of debt collection without success – seemingly worthless paper. Check Investors bought 2.2 million such checks for pennies on the dollar.