According to a motion [PDF] filed with a federal court in Illinois, the Federal Trade Commission has accused defendants Sean C. Mulrooney and Odafe Stephen Ogaga and the five companies they controlled of using websites under the names of “Vantage Funding,” “Ideal Advance,” “Loan Assistance Company,” “Palm Loan Advances,” “Loan Tree Advances,” “Pacific Advances,” and “Your Loan Funding” to collect consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, bank routing numbers, and bank account numbers under the guise of helping these people obtain payday loans.
But rather than using their supposed connections to a network of lenders to get loans for applicants, these companies allegedly used the info to chisel away at consumers’ bank accounts, debiting around $30 at a time.
Additionally, the FTC claims that the defendants paid third parties for information about other consumers and used the purchased information to debit these folks’ accounts.
The defendants were able to siphon off more than $5 million in total.
Those consumers who complained about the vanishing funds were promised refunds and $100 gas vouchers, but the defendants’ companies never delivered on these deals.
Adding insult to injury, by taking money from consumers who were already in need of cash, the defendants’ actions resulted in people who were unable to pay bills or other debts.
Meanwhile, the defendants were living like kings, or at least kingpins. One defendant owns a 2012 Maserati GranTurismo, while the other defendant is the proud owner of a 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost and a 2006 Ferrari 430.
Though it looks like those rides, along with the defendants’ other assets will be turned over the FTC as part of a settlement deal.
“Repeatedly, we’ve seen situations where consumers provide sensitive financial information when inquiring about a payday loan online, and that information falls into the wrong hands,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.