Las Vegas-based race car driver Scott Tucker and his brother were sued by federal regulators Monday over allegations they had scammed consumers who had taken out online payday loans.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against Tucker, his brother Blaine Tucker and several affiliated individuals and companies in Henderson and Las Vegas, as well as in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The FTC complaint says the Tuckers and their codefendants have been running a scam in which online payday loan borrowers are hit with undisclosed and inflated fees and are harmed by other unlawful business practices.
Some of the Tuckers' partners are businesses incorporated under the laws of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska, the FTC said.
''Like other payday lenders in recent years, this operation has claimed in state legal proceedings that it is affiliated with Native American tribes, and therefore immune from legal action. However, the FTC alleges that the defendants’ claims of tribal affiliation do not exempt them from complying with federal law,'' the FTC said in a statement.
The lawsuit claims the alleged scam worked this way:
Terms allegedly were misrepresented to consumers. For instance, someone borrowing $300 for one pay period would be told the total finance charge would be $90, meaning the total to be paid back would be $390. However, the defendants typically ended up taking $975 from the customer’s bank account over 10 pay periods, the FTC said.
The defendants also violated federal law by conditioning the extension of credit on consumers’ preauthorizing repayment by electronic fund transfer, the suit says.
The lawsuit says that when some borrowers couldn’t or wouldn’t pay, the defendants unlawfully threatened them with arrest and lawsuits.
The FTC said that over the last five years, the defendants’ ''deceptive and illegal tactics'' have generated more than 7,500 complaints to law enforcement authorities
The Tucker brothers are accused in the lawsuit of transferring more than $40 million collected from consumers by the payday lending companies to a Henderson company Scott Tucker controls, Level 5 Motor Sports LLC, for ''sponsorship'' fees that benefit his automobile racing enterprise.
A request for comment was placed with the Tuckers.
The defendants in Monday’s lawsuits, besides the Tuckers and Level 5, are:
• AMG Services Inc. of Overland Park, Kan.
• Red Cedar Services Inc. doing business as 500FastCash of Miami, Okla.
• SFS Inc. doing business as OneClickCash of Niobrara, Neb.
• Tribal Financial Services doing business as Ameriloan, UnitedCashLoans, USFastCash and Miami Nation Enterprises of Miami, Okla.
• AMG Capital Management LLC of Henderson.
• LeadFlash Consulting, LLC of Henderson.
• Partner Weekly LLC of Las Vegas.
• Black Creek Capital Corp. of Henderson.
• Broadmoor Capital Partners LLC of Henderson.
• The Muir Law Firm LLC of Overland Park.
• Park 269 LLC of Overland Park.
• And individuals Timothy J. Muir, Don E. Brady Robert D. Campbell, Troy L. LittleAxe and Kim C. Tucker.