For payday lender Scott Tucker, accounts are overdue


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Scott Tucker

Scott Tucker

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A groundbreaking federal settlement with an Overland Park-based online payday loan company will bring much-needed relief to consumers who have been misled by businessman Scott Tucker and AMG Services Inc.

Fortunately, the deal with the Federal Trade Commission is just the latest step in a government crackdown on online lenders who have made vast personal fortunes through outrageous schemes to drain the bank accounts of most people in low income. Partly because of Tucker’s ostentatious success, the Kansas City area became an early hub of predatory industry.

In the FTC’s largest-ever settlement with a payday lender, announced last week, two of Tucker’s companies, AMG Services and MNE Services of Miami, Okla., agreed to pay $21 million in reimbursement customers and cancel $285 million in fines and unpaid loans. .

The $21 million is disproportionately small for the money Tucker allegedly made from his disreputable businesses. But it remains a defendant in other FTC litigation, as do other of its entities, including Level 5 Motorsports, Tucker’s world-class auto racing team. The FTC alleges he transferred more than $40 million from his payday loan companies to his running operation.

Last year, Level 5 put a collection of sports cars and other gear up for sale, shortly after a federal grand jury in New York subpoenaed AMG in a separate criminal investigation. which would involve possible electronic fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

Tucker deserves no sympathy. The FTC alleges his companies made him a fortune by charging his clients fees and interest rates they weren’t told about in advance. A $300 loan could cost close to $1,000. When state regulators attempted to arrest Tucker, he arranged to become an “employee” of sovereign Indian tribes. He used profits from his businesses to fund his fleet of race cars, a private Learjet and an $8 million vacation home in Colorado.

Tucker’s get-rich-quick story has drawn a host of local imitators, some of whom are now fighting lawsuits from federal agencies.

These people have found help in the high commercial and civic circles of the region. Kansas City-based Missouri Bank & Trust is one of several banks nationwide to be sued for allegedly helping online payday lenders break the law by processing their transactions. The bank says the claims are baseless, but has stopped working with the controversial companies.

Even some local schools and churches turned a blind eye as super-rich new parishioners funded investment projects with donations from loan sharking corporations.

The struggles of Tucker and other area payday lenders should be seen as a warning against adopting blatantly unethical practices. As Tucker learns with his clients, quick money can be very expensive.

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