Online Lenders Charged with Usury, Operating Without a License
Online lenders in five states have been charged with making loans without a license and offering interest rates that violate state limits.
The lenders are located in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri and Washington, the Northwest Credit Union Association reported.
The five online lenders are Western Sky Financial LLC, Payday Financial LLC, d/b/a Big Sky Cash and Lakota Cash, Great Sky Finance LLC, d/b/a Great Sky Cash, Green Billow LLC, d/b/a Four Seasons Cash, and Red Stone Financial LLC, d/b/a Red Stone Cash.
The unlicensed lenders are all owned and operated by Martin Webb from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is operating them as an individual tribal member rather than through the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe or any of its political subdivisions, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association.
Thousands of loans were made by the lenders to Washington state residents online with rates that ranged between 89.68% and 1,825%, which are well above the maximum rate of interest of 12% permitted in the state, the NWCUA said.
The Washington Department of Financial Institutions said after receiving at least 22 complaints against the lenders, it issued a consumer alert in August 2011 warning consumers that Western Sky Financial and Lakota Cash were not licensed to make loans in Washington.
The named lenders have the right to request an administrative hearing on the charges, according to the NWCUA. While the charges are not an order that violations of the Consumer Loan Act have occurred, the law gives the DFI the authority to files charges if the regulator believes there are violations.