Online Lenders Face Lawsuit from Illinois Consumer

Advocate Andy

Payday Loan Came with 664% Interest Rate, Violated State Rate Cap

Law360 reports that a Chicago resident is seeking to strike back at alleged predatory lenders who used a Wisconsin tribe to skirt Illinois’ 36% rate cap on loans.

In a complaint filed Thursday in Illinois federal court, Tyanna Qualls took aim at a ring of LLCs — including LDF Holdings, Anong LLC and Availblue — purportedly owned by a Wisconsin tribe called the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. According to Qualls, the LLCs are no more tribal than their non-Native, out-of-state beneficiaries: Jesse Phillips Lorenzo, Mark Koetting, and debt collector Rick Gwynne.
Qualls, who took out a personal loan from Anong LLC over the internet last month at a disclosed annual interest rate of 664.77%, seeks to represent a class of Illinois borrowers who received loans from LDF, Anong and Availblue with interest rates higher than 36%.

The 664% interest rate is significantly higher than the maximum rate allowed under the recently-enacted Predatory Loan Prevention Act.

The Predatory Loan Prevention Act (SB 1792), would directly address long-standing inequities by prohibiting lenders from charging more than 36 percent APR (annual percentage rate) on consumer loans. High-cost, small-dollar loans heighten the racial wealth gap, and stopping high interest payday lending is a significant step toward immediate relief for consumers.

In Illinois, the average APR on a payday loan is 297 percent, and the average APR on a title loan is 179 percent. While the existing federal law already protects active-duty military with a 36 percent APR cap, this legislation would extend the same protection to Illinois veterans and all other consumers.

Law360 notes of the high-interest online lending scheme and subsequent lawsuit:

According to the complaint, both Lorenzo and Koetting have a history of associating themselves with tribes in order to offer high-interest loans that would otherwise be illegal under state and federal laws. They knew what they were doing, Qualls told the court, or else should have. “Even the most cursory inquiry into the legality of collecting 450%+ loans made to Illinois residents over the internet would have disclosed to defendants that they were violating the law,” she said.

A survey conducted by DebtHammer finds that 90% of payday loan borrowers regret taking out their loan. That may not be surprising considering the same survey indicates that interest rates can be in excess of 400% and it often takes five months or more to pay off a single loan.

Meanwhile, recently filed federal legislation would create a national rate cap of 36%.

“For too long, payday and car-title lenders have been allowed to exploit the most economically vulnerable members of our communities,” said Candace Archer, payday and consumer campaigns manager for Americans for Financial Reform. “Congress is right to take the initiative to address this problem, especially as many families are struggling to recover from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic. This bill will establish nationwide safeguards to protect consumers from dangerous debt traps.”

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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