LAS VEGAS (CN) - Five people who participated in a payday loan scheme that bilked consumers of $25 million await their punishment from a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey granted summary judgment Tuesday to the FTC against the five but denied summary judgment against others, including Ideal Financial Solutions, due to judgments already entered against them.
The five are Steven Sunyich, Chris Sunyich, Michael Sunyich, Melissa Sunyich Gardner and Jared Mosher.
Default judgments already had been entered against Ascot Crossing, Bracknell Shore, Chandon Group, Fiscal Fitness, Avanix and Ideal Financial, and consent judgments were entered against Kent Brown and Shawn Sunyich.
The FTC sued Ideal Financial et al. in 2013, claiming they "used an intricate web of concealment to debit hundreds of thousands of consumers' bank accounts and bill their credit cards more than $25 million without their consent."
Ideal Financial and others "targeted financially vulnerable consumers who had never come in contact with them and without authorization debited their bank accounts and charged their credit cards, usually for about $30," the FTC said.
"Those who disputed the charges were told they had purchased something, such as financial counseling or loan-matching services or assistance in completing a payday loan applications."
Dorsey said Ideal Financial found their victims by buying payday loan accounts.
"For example, Ideal purchased hundreds of thousands of payday-loan applications from LeapLab LLC and charged millions of dollars to these consumers' bank accounts during at least four charging campaigns. LeapLab's chairman and CEO, John Ayers, testified that Ideal's consumers could not have authorized Ideal's charges," Dorsey wrote.
To hide the scheme, the defendants created "hundreds of shell companies" and registered more than 230 Internet domain names, often using identity-hiding services and auto-forwarding features, the FTC said.
Despite the judgments, Dorsey said the FTC did not provide sufficient evidence to support its proposed sanctions. The FTC said the defendants "attempted to steal approximately $82 million from 1.5 million consumers," Dorsey wrote, but did not provide her with "sufficient admissible evidence of the total magnitude of defendant's to fashion the appropriate remedy."
She gave the FTC 30 days to do so.
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