The operators of a Tampa, Fla.-based payday loan broker scheme agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely promised to help consumers get loans, but instead used consumers personal financial data to take money from their bank accounts without their consent.
Defendants Sean C. Mulrooney and Odafe Stephen Ogaga, and five companies they controlled, claimed to be affiliated with a network of 120 potential payday lenders. They misrepresented that 80% of all applicants received loans within an hour, according to the FTCs complaint. In reality, the defendants did not lend money to consumers, and there is no evidence that they helped anyone in obtaining a loan.
The settlement imposes a $6.2 million judgment, equal to the wrongful financial gains, and bans the defendants from:
marketing or providing any credit-related products or services, including loans, prepaid credit cards, debt-relief services, and credit repair services;
collecting, selling, or buying consumers personal and financial information, except in order to process a specifically authorized transaction; and
processing transactions using remotely created checks or remotely created payment orders.
The settlement requires Ogaga to surrender nearly all his assets: $50,000 in cash, and proceeds from the sale of his 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost, 2007 Lexus LS460, and 2006 Ferrari. Once he surrenders these assets, the remainder of the judgment against Ogaga will be suspended. The judgment against Mulrooney is entirely suspended, because of his inability to pay.
According to the complaints, the defendants used consumers personal financial information it had collected through its websites to withdraw $30 from the bank accounts of tens of thousands of consumers, without authorization and without providing anything of value in return.
Also under the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting the terms and conditions of any service or product they market, and from charging consumers for anything without their consent. The settlement requires the defendants to dispose of customer information that they have already collected and not to use, disclose, or benefit from, and it.
Along with Mulrooney and Ogaga, the complaint named Caprice Marketing LLC; NuVue Partners LLC; Capital Advance LLC; Loan Assistance Company LLC; and ILife Funding LLC, formerly known as Guaranteed Funding Partners LLC.