CFPB charges lender with misrepresenting loan risks
On November 5, the CFPB filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against a Florida-based company and its CEO (collectively, “defendants”) alleging violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act through their offering of short-term, high-interest loans funded by deposits made by other consumers. According to the complaint, the defendants allegedly misrepresented both the risks associated with the deposit product as well as the annual percentage rate (APR) for the loans offered to other consumers. The Bureau alleges that the defendants engaged in deceptive acts or practices by, among other things, (i) purportedly marketing loans, which ranged from $100 to $500 each, as having a 440 percent APR, when in reality the actual APR ranged from 975 to 978 percent; (ii) claiming that deposits received by consumers to fund its loans are guaranteed a 15 percent annual percentage yield; (iii) guaranteeing that consumers’ deposits are FDIC insured and held at “‘member financial institutions’ and ‘participating banks’”; and (iv) claiming that roughly every minute a new consumer makes a deposit. However, the Bureau contends that deposits are not held in FDIC-insured accounts, that the rate of return is not guaranteed, and that “the average rate of new customers is just a few each day.” The Bureau further alleges that because the majority of the loans violate Florida’s criminal-usury law, rendering them uncollectable, the defendants would be unable to collect delinquent loans or meet their obligations to consumers seeking to withdraw their deposited funds. Among other things, the Bureau seeks an injunction against the defendants, damages, consumer redress, disgorgement, and a civil money penalty.