In December, Cunningham was called in for a six-hour deposition, the longest he's ever sat through, at which the lawyers printed out pages of his online comments to accuse him of acting like a lawyer. Plus, CMI insists that they didn't violate any laws and that Cunningham is acting in bad faith. Although the company already offered Cunningham money to settle the case, Cunningham refused, asking for much more than the "industry standard," as Cunningham calls it, of $3,500.

"If they don't pay a bunch of money, if they don't feel pain, they will not change," he says.

A big win in his case against CMI could go a long way toward clearing Cunningham's debts—if he ever chose to pay them, that is.

Craig Cunningham says no one offered hurting small-time investors like him a government bailout when he landed deep in debt. That made him mad, so he decided to get even.
Hal Samples
Craig Cunningham says no one offered hurting small-time investors like him a government bailout when he landed deep in debt. That made him mad, so he decided to get even.
Steven Katz, author of a book on fighting bill collectors, says the idea that consumers have a moral obligation to pay their creditors is a myth created by lenders.
Janelle Montenegro
Steven Katz, author of a book on fighting bill collectors, says the idea that consumers have a moral obligation to pay their creditors is a myth created by lenders.

"I took outsize risks, and I got burned," he says. "When myself and some other fellow small investors were losing their assets, nobody cared."

Up until now, everything was about making easy money for Cunningham. Now, it's about justice—or at least what he sees as justice.

"When you or I make a mistake, they say, 'Hey, tough nuts, be smarter next time, you know, bad luck, didn't work out for ya," he says. "When the fat cats on Wall Street make a mistake, they say, 'Oh, national emergency! We've got to bail these guys out."

Since nobody has showed up to bail Cunningham out, he's decided some of the $100,000 debt he once amassed will never get paid back.

"I already paid them off," he says. "The government took my money without asking me and gave it to the banks. And since I owe the banks money, but they already got my money from the government, I say we're even."

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