[URL="http://www.tulsaworld.com/site/authors.aspx?a=JARREL-WADE-"]By JARREL WADE World Staff Writer[/URL]
Published: 4/3/2012 2:28 AM
Last Modified: 4/3/2012 7:50 AM
The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit Monday against several Oklahoma tribes alleging their payday lending businesses are illegally levying costs against customers.
FTC officials filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, naming several Oklahoma tribal entities as defendants, including the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma's AMG Services and Tribal Financial Services, and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma's Red Cedar Services.
A call to Miami Chief Tom Gamble was not returned Monday, and a spokeswoman for the Modoc Tribe said they had "no comment."
Also named as defendants are Internet-based loan sites Ameriloan, UnitedCashLoans, USFastCash and 500FastCash.
Monday's lawsuit is the second in seven months filed by the FTC against payday lenders, according to a release.
Payday loan companies have come under fire for allegedly masking fees, violating legal lending practices and falsely threatening customers with arrest and imprisonment for failing to pay back bills, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants have violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Truth in Lending Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.
According to a release, the FTC files complaints when it has "reason to believe" that a law has been violated and it appears to the commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.
The Federal Trade Commission vote to allow staff to file the complaint was unanimous at 4-0.
"According to documents filed by the FTC over the last five years, the defendants' deceptive and illegal tactics have generated more than 7,500 complaints to law enforcement authorities," according to the FTC release about the lawsuit. "In many cases, the defendants' inflated fees left borrowers with supposed debts of more than triple the amount they had borrowed."
Though the organizations claim tribal affiliation with several tribes in Oklahoma and Nebraska, the alleged owners and many of the organizations are in Nevada, where the lawsuit was filed.
As relief, the lawsuit asks the court to order an immediate injunction on payday loans, restitution for alleged victims and a forfeiture of all assets gained through allegedly illegal actions.
Original Print Headline: Suit filed against tribal lenders
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