In what some are saying is the largest television giveaway in history, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver bought up people’s medical debt to the tune of $15 million.
In a segment targeting the shady companies who buy medical debt from collection agencies then sell off the debtor’s personal info to third parties, Oliver, along with his producers, set up his own debt-buying firm and bought up $14,922261.76 in debt for less than $60,000.
“It was disturbingly easy,” Oliver noted.
From Raw Story:
The show spent $50 back in April incorporating a debt acquisition company online in Mississippi, calling their corporation Central Asset Recovery Professionals — or CARP, “after the bottom-feeding fish.”
The debt Oliver bought was technically out-of-statute, meaning creditors could not actively collect the money owed because the obligation had passed the statute of limitations, but CARP was given the names, current addresses and Social Security numbers of nearly 9,000 people who owed money for medical care.
“We bought it, which is absolutely terrifying, because it means if I wanted to, I could legally have CARP take possession of that list and have employees start calling people, turning their lives upside-down over medical debt they no longer had to pay,” Oliver said. “There would be absolutely nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that absolutely everything is wrong with that.”
In the largest one-time giveaway in history, Oliver and his team forgave the debt, which as Raw Story points out, was even a larger giveaway then the time when Oprah gave away $8 million in cars to her studio audience.
“Are you ready to make television history?” Oliver asked. “Clearly, this is only going to help the 9,000 people whose medical debt we bought. The larger issue is, we need much clearer rules and tougher oversight to protect consumers from potentially predatory companies like the one we set up. But in the meantime, it seems the least we can do with this debt that I cannot f*cking believe we are allowed to own is to give it away.”
“You are about to watch me give away $15 million,” Oliver said, and pressed a comically large red button that signaled the start of the debt-forgiveness process. “F*ck you, Oprah!”
Watch the segment from Last Week Tonight in the video below: