The operators of a payday lending scheme that allegedly bilked millions of dollars from consumers nationwide have agreed to more than $54 million in settlements with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The settlements, announced on July 7, arise from allegations by the FTC that Timothy Coppinger, Frampton Rowland III and their companies targeted online payday loan applicants – consumers seeking short-term loans to tide them over until they received their next paycheck. Approximately 400,000 consumers were affected by the scheme, and the settlement funds will be used to reimburse them for losses, according to the FTC.
Using information gathered from data brokers and lead generators, the companies allegedly deposited funds in the applicants’ bank accounts without obtaining permission. The companies subsequently withdrew money to pay recurring “finance” charges without using any of the funds to pay the total allegedly owed, the FTC alleged. The companies also allegedly misrepresented the loans’ costs, finance charges, annual percentage rates payment schedule and other data. Consumers who closed their bank accounts in a bid to halt the unauthorized debits subsequently discovered that the companies had sold the purported loans to debt-collection companies that harassed them for payment, the FTC alleged. A federal court in Missouri halted the operation and froze the Defendants’ assets pending resolution of the FTC allegations.
The Coppinger and Frampton limited liability companies involved in the lawsuit include: CWB Services; Orion Services; Sandpoint Capital; Basseterre Capital; Namakan Capital; Anasazi Services; Anasazi Group; Vandelier Group; St. Armands Group; Longboat Group and Oread Group. The settlements, which require federal court approval, erase any consumer debt purportedly owed to the Defendants and bar them from reporting the debts to credit-reporting agencies.
The agreements, according to the FTC, also ban the Defendants “from any aspect of the consumer lending business, including collecting payments, communicating about loans and selling debt.” If approved by the court, the FTC said the settlements will impose a more than $32.1 million consumer redress judgement on the Coppinger companies agreed and a similar judgement of nearly $21.9 million on the Frampton companies. The judgments against Coppinger and Frampton will be suspended upon their surrender of certain assets, according to the FTC.
Source: USA Today
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