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Opinion: The rise and fall of Scott Tucker and other payday lenders is a sobering story in Kansas City

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The illegal loans funded Scott Tucker’s motorsport activities, authorities said.

Two local businessmen and a lawyer who got very rich very quickly by fooling low income consumers with exorbitant fees and interest rates on online loans are finally facing criminal charges.

Around the time that Scott Tucker, Richard Moseley and attorney Timothy Muir were appearing in this area on Wednesday, officials in New York unveiled indictments describing elaborate attrition ploys that took place openly and in the community. polite company in Kansas City.

“The Tucker Payday Lending Organization was an organized criminal group with leaders based in Overland Park, Kan., And operating across the United States,” said an indictment.

About Moseley, FBI official Diego Rodriguez said in a press release: “This case is an example of predatory lending at its best.”

At worst, in fact. The federal indictments detail huge companies that for years have gotten away with making loans to people in desperate circumstances, then claiming far more than the value of the loans in the form of interest and cash. fresh.

And they are not alone. Tucker’s early success in Internet lending has spurred a host of copy companies in this area.

The boom years saw a number of newly wealthy lenders purchase Johnson County mansions and luxury vehicles. the ill-gotten wealth even flocked to Catholic parish and school projects.

In August 2013, U.S. Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas and Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri were the main signatories of a letter to then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder protesting his efforts to prevent banks from processing loans. payday online. It’s no surprise that the two GOP congressmen, as well as Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins from Kansas, are among the the best recipients of the House payday loan donations.

But no one around Kansas City is showing the largesse of predatory loans these days. At least eight businessmen in the area, outside of Tucker and Moseley, are under investigation by federal agencies.

The noxious operations, which once employed hundreds of people in the region, shut down so quickly and silently it was as if they had evaporated.

The support structure that provided investment capital and technical expertise to online lenders would seek more legitimate opportunities in start-ups in the region.

The indictments of Tucker, Moseley and Muir, Tucker’s attorney, shed light on the scale of the businesses and why it has taken so long to hold people to account.

Tucker and Muir ran a $ 2 billion business that Tucker started in 1997, the authorities allege. He attacked more than 4.5 million people. The company operated under a dizzying array of names. Tucker’s great scam was to convince the Indian tribes to protect him by allowing him to present himself as one of their “employees”. This allowed him to evade the execution efforts of attorneys general in several states.

Moseley deceived around 600,000 people with high interest loans, the indictment against him alleged. He too has operated his business under several names and falsely claimed, even to his lawyers, that the loans were made by employees based in Nevis, a Caribbean island, and New Zealand. The business was run from Kansas City.

A shocking claim in the indictment is that many people accused of defrauding Moseley have never even applied for a loan. They provided crucial information to a “lead generator” website, allowing the operation to access their bank accounts and withdraw money.

Moseley, Tucker and Muir are accused of violating federal racketeering laws as well as the US Truth in Lending Act. But they also broke usury laws in several states, officials said.

One of the reasons the indictments rolled out of the US attorney’s office in New York City is that New York has a criminal law setting a loan limit at 25 percent annual interest. With this strict cap, authorities had no difficulty in establishing that online payday loan companies violated consumer protections.

Applying is more difficult in Kansas and especially Missouri, where the average annual interest rate on payday loans is 455%.

Attorney General Chris Koster took action a year ago against an online loan operator who broke Missouri law by charging excessive fees and denying due process to collect overdue fees. In general, however, payday loans are an open field in Missouri.

Federal authorities are now rushing to seize what they claim to be the proceeds of alleged crimes from Kansas City’s daring online lenders. They are seeking to clean up numerous bank accounts controlled by Tucker, as well as acquire his Colorado vacation home, six Ferrari race cars, four Porsche cars and a Learjet.

The collapse of the Kansas City payday loan bubble under pressure from federal law enforcement has shattered families and caused divisions in churches, country clubs and executive suites.

Too many people and institutions here have been too quick to embrace the new “entrepreneurs” when they show up with fancy cars and quick cash. Too many people didn’t want to think about misery on the other end of the phone because consumers were hassled to pay interest and fees they couldn’t afford.

Now it’s payday, okay. And that should serve as an edifying tale.

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