Hello again. Thank you for your patience.
I'm sorry to say that I do not have good news for you. Please see the answers to your questions below:
Q: Surely it is illegal to not pay your rent and to evade collection? Anyone else would be in jail
A: No, I'm sorry to say that it is not criminal to fail to pay rent, nor is it criminal to evade collection. Nobody would be in jail for that. Debtors prisons haven't been in operation in the western world since the 19th century.
Q: do I have to keep paying UPFRONT, without letting the agency take out filing fees once they collect?
A: You don't have to pay anything upfront, but the collection agency doesn't have to do business with you if you don't pay upfront. You may want to call around to other collection agencies to see if they will agree to pay filing fees themselves.
Q: Am I a fool to make this agency rich with no results?
A: If you have only paid filing fees, then you haven't made the agency rich. You have merely reimbursed it for fees that it had to pay out of pocket itself. Different agencies handle this differently, but in general unless you can provide steady work to the agency, then I'd expect that most will want payment immediately for filing fees (though, again, you should call around to be certain). The reason why I would expect most to require you to pay filing fees upfront, rather than take it out of whatever is collected is because they may never be able to collect anything.
I am truly sorry that my answer is bad news for you, but please understand that it would be unfair to you (and unprofessional of me) to provide you with anything less than an honest response. However, if your concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, then please let me know, and I will be happy to clarify my answer.
Also, despite the bad news, I would certainly appreciate it if you remember to provide a positive rating via the stars, as it is the only way that I'll get credit for answering your question(s). Thank you. :)