Two men who said they ran a payday loan brokerage in Tampa, Fla., have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from consumers' bank accounts.
The FTC had sought $6.2 million from the defendants, which the agency said in a release Friday was "equal to the defendants' ill-gotten gains," but their ability to pay was determined to be limited.
Instead, Odafe Stephen Ogaga will surrender nearly all his assets, including $50,000 in cash, and proceeds from the sale of three luxury cars, and then the remainder of the judgment against him will be suspended, the release said. The judgment against his partner, Sean C. Mulrooney, was entirely suspended because he cannot afford to pay it, the release said.
The FTC filed a complaint last year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that accused Ogaga, Mulrooney and five companies they controlled of "misrepresent[ing] that 80% of all applicants got loans" within one hour from a purported network of 120 payday lenders, the release said.
The defendants falsely promised to help consumers get loans in order to get their personal financial data, the release said. They used the data, which was collected through their websites, to withdraw "without authorization" $30 each from the accounts of tens of thousands of consumers. In addition, "there is no evidence that they helped anyone in obtaining a loan," the release said.
The defendants are also banned from marketing or providing any credit-related products or services, such as loans, prepaid credit cards, debt-relief services and credit repair services; collecting, selling, or buying consumers' personal and financial information without specific authorization; or remotely processing payments.
The five companies tied to Ogaga and Mulrooney were Caprice Marketing, NuVue Partners, Capital Advance, Loan Assistance Co. and ILife Funding, formerly known as Guaranteed Funding Partners, the release said.