On July 29, a payment processor company and its two sales affiliates (defendants) agreed to a stipulated order with the FTC to settle charges that they imposed hidden terms, surprise exit fees, and “zombie charges” on small businesses.

Continue Reading Payment Processor Agrees to Refund Customers After FTC Alleges Surprise Exit Fees and Zombie Charges On Small Businesses

On July 27, the CFPB and DOJ proposed a settlement with a nonbank mortgage lender for its discriminatory “redlining” lending practices against minority families living in the greater Philadelphia area. If approved by the court, the mortgage lender would be required to pay more than $22 million in civil penalties, and would be the CFPB’s first nonbank mortgage redlining settlement.

Continue Reading CFPB, DOJ Propose $22 Million Penalty Against Nonbank Mortgage Lender for Illegal Redlining

On July 12, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it is investigating multiple crypto companies that offer interest-bearing crypto asset accounts. These accounts allow users to lend crypto to the company in return for interest.

Continue Reading Crypto Interest-Bearing Accounts, the Next Target?

On June 29, a Florida court issued a final judgment against a Miami-based payday lender and its CEO resolving allegations that the defendants misappropriated investor funds. According to the complaint, the business fraudulently raised upwards of $66 million through the sale of promissory notes to more than 500 Venezuelan-American investors who were told that the company would use their funds to finance payday loans through the offer and sale of “safe and secured” promissory notes. Investors were promised returns of up to 120%, yet it was alleged that the company did not generate revenue to cover its principal and interest payments due to investors.

Continue Reading Payday Lender Ordered to Pay $39 Million in Misappropriated Funds Suit

On June 9, the CFPB filed a complaint and proposed order in California federal district court seeking final judgment against the owner of a student loan debt relief company for allegedly withdrawing more than $240,000 from the bank accounts of student borrowers without authorization.

Continue Reading CFPB Targets Student Loan Debt Relief Scam Reboot

On June 2, the FTC was granted a federal court order permanently barring a merchant cash advance operation and its owner from engaging in further deceptive practices and granting restitution to the customers the company harmed. The defendants offered alternative small business financing by purportedly providing funds to businesses in exchange for a percentage of future revenue. According to the FTC, however, the defendants frequently deceived small businesses and their owners, lying about terms and fees for their financing. The websites falsely claimed that cash advanced required no personal guaranties of collateral while the contracts did include such requirements. The merchant cash advance company also required businesses and owners to sign confessions of judgment, which allowed the company to obtain uncontested judgments in cases of alleged default, and which the defendants sometimes used to illegally and improperly seize consumers’ assets. Customer businesses often received thousands of dollars less funding than promised. The FTC further alleged that the defendant company and owner threatened physical violence when the businesses were unable to pay. Finally, the company is accused of providing false documents to the court during proceedings.

Continue Reading FTC Captures $2.7 Million in Restitution from Small Business Financer

On May 2, the CFPB published a blog post demonstrating its commitment to “a fair, transparent, and competitive auto lending market” by calling attention to add-on products for which auto dealers and finance companies “often charge consumers all payments for any add-on products as a lump sum at origination of the auto loan, and they generally include the lump sum cost as part of the total vehicle financing agreement.”  CFPB examiners have focused on how servicers manage these add-on product charges when the loan ends prior to when the add-on product’s potential benefits end.
Continue Reading CFPB Blog: Stop Overcharging for Auto Loan Add-on Products

In April, we continued to see a steady pace in the seriousness and frequency of crypto enforcement actions by state and federal law enforcement.  (See our March 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions Roundup blog here where we discuss the regulatory guidance and jurisdiction of federal and state agencies to enforce these matters.)
Continue Reading April 2022 Crypto Enforcement Actions And Regulatory Guidance Roundup

On April 28, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) provided a “Virtual Currency Guidance” update.  The guidance is directed towards all virtual currency businesses licensed under 23 NYCRR Part 200 (the New York BitLicense) or limited purpose trust companies chartered under the New York Banking Law (collectively, “VC Entities”).”  The guidance mandates VC Entities to employ blockchain analytics to design and implement effective BSA/AML policies, processes, and procedures, including, for example, those relating to customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, and sanctions screening.
Continue Reading NYDFS Provides Guidance on the Use of Blockchain Analytics to Maintain Compliance