John Oliver did a segment on Last Week Tonight about the debt-collection agency that featured a headline-making stunt – forgiving $15 million in medical debt.

John Oliver Forgives $15M

Oliver revealed Sunday night that a couple of months ago, he and his producers spent $50 to start a debt-buying company. The idea was to show just how easy it is to start such a company, and how little oversight is involved in the sketchy process.

“It is pretty clear by now (that) debt buying is a grimy business, and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it,” Oliver said on his show. “And I can prove that to you, because I’m an idiot, and we started a debt-buying company. And it was disturbingly easy.”

“We called it Central Asset Recovery Professionals, or CARP, after the bottom-feeding fish,” Oliver added.

With his newfound company, Oliver purchased nearly $15 million in medical debt from Texas for less than $60,000. CARP was then in a position to receive a file with the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of the nearly 9,000 people who owed the $15 million – which Oliver said was “absolutely terrifying, because I could legally have CARP take possession of that debt and have employees start calling people turning their lives upside down over medical debt.”

Instead, Oliver found a way to have the debt forgiven – saving people from the harassment of
creditors and potential lawsuits on what is often referred to as “zombie debt.”

“Why not forgive it?” he asked. “Because on one hand, it’s obviously the right thing to do. But much more importantly, we’d be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history. It seems to me the least we can do for debt I cannot f–king believe we’re allowed to own is to give it away.”

In the end, Oliver believes that he bested Oprah Winfrey‘s famous and record-breaking $8 million car giveaway.

“F–k you, Oprah,” Oliver quipped. “I am the new queen of daytime talk!”