FTC Charges Payday Broker LeapLab & Ideal Financial with Theft of Millions from Consumers’ Accounts

By | Dec 23, 2014

Post from the Federal Trade Commission:

FTC Charges Data Broker with Facilitating the Theft of Millions of Dollars from Consumers’ Accounts Company Sold Personal Financial Information to Scammers.

A data broker operation sold the sensitive personal information of hundreds of thousands of consumers – including Social Security and bank account numbers – to scammers who allegedly debited millions from their accounts, the Federal Trade Commission charged in a complaint filed today.

According to the FTC’s complaint, data broker LeapLab bought payday loan applications of financially strapped consumers, and then sold that information to marketers whom it knew had no legitimate need for it. At least one of those marketers, Ideal Financial Solutions – a defendant in another FTC case – allegedly used the information to withdraw millions of dollars from consumers’ accounts without their authorization.

“This case shows that the illegitimate use of sensitive financial information causes real harm to consumers,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Defendants like those in this case harm consumers twice: first by facilitating the theft of their money and second by undermining consumers’ confidence about providing their personal information to legitimate lenders.”

The defendants collected hundreds of thousands of payday loan applications from payday loan websites known as publishers. Publishers typically offer to help consumers obtain payday loans. To do so, they ask for consumers’ sensitive financial information to evaluate their loan applications and transfer funds to their bank accounts if the loan is approved. These applications, including those bought and sold by LeapLab, contained the consumer’s name, address, phone number, employer, Social Security number, and bank account number, including the bank routing number.

The defendants sold approximately five percent of these loan applications to online lenders, who paid them between $10 and $150 per lead. According to the FTC’s complaint, however, the defendants sold the remaining 95 percent for approximately $0.50 each to third parties who were not online lenders and had no legitimate need for this financial information.

The Commission’s complaint alleges that these non-lender third parties included: marketers that made unsolicited sales offers to consumers via email, text message, or telephone call; data brokers that aggregated and then resold consumer information; and phony internet merchants like Ideal Financial Solutions. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants had reason to believe these marketers had no legitimate need for the sensitive information they were selling.

In the FTC’s case against Ideal Financial Solutions, between 2009 and 2013, Ideal Financial allegedly purchased information on at least 2.2 million consumers from data brokers and used it to make millions of dollars in unauthorized debits and charges for purported financial products that the consumers never purchased. LeapLab provided account information for at least 16 percent these victims.

The complaint notes that LeapLab hired a key executive from Ideal Financial as its own Chief Marketing Officer and then knew that Ideal used the information purchased from it to make unauthorized debits. Yet, the complaint alleges, the defendants continued to sell such information to Ideal.

The defendants in the case, Sitesearch Corp., LeapLab LLC; Leads Company LLC; and John Ayers, are alleged to have violated the FTC Act’s prohibition on unfair practices.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information
MEDIA CONTACT:
Jay Mayfield
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2181

STAFF CONTACT:
James Kohm
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2640

Original FTC Filing

FTC v. Sitesearch Corporation, Doing Business As LeapLab

Share
6 Comments so far
  1. Ken December 23, 2014 10:59 am

    Man, I hate to see this kind of stuff; bad apples. Every industry includes a few fools who hurt all of us!

  2. Payday Loan Industry December 23, 2014 11:00 am

    Can’t argue with you!

  3. P OBrien December 26, 2014 12:56 pm

    When is the Payday loan industry going to come clean… or will it always be a dirty business preying on people who need help. The banking business stop all transactions with every company good or bad…you guys need to bleed out!

  4. Cindy January 6, 2015 11:31 am

    I wonder how many lenders are out there and are not lenders.

    https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2011/11/17/461975/238712/en/Ideal-Financial-Announces-Plans-to-Become-a-Direct-Lender-in-42-Billion-Payday-Loan-Industry.html?print=1

    According to this, Ideal, a public company was a lender disclosing it publicly. Another reason to license lenders first. How else would marketers know the business practices of their clients.

  5. Payday Loan Industry January 10, 2015 9:48 am

    83% of the payday loan offerings you see on websites are simply lead generation scams.

  6. Payday Loan Industry January 10, 2015 9:51 am

    It’s happening as I type here. The payday loan lenders who fail to embrace “the long game” are being pushed and shoved out of the industry by The CFPB, State’s Attorney General, banks, DOJ, and our industry.

Leave a Comment

If you would like to make a comment, please fill out the form below.

Name (required)

Email (required)

Website

Comments

What is 4 + 13 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)
© 2009-2019... Payday & Title Lending, - Payday Loan Biz Resources & Courses How to Start Title Loan Business Website Legal Terms Disclosure
Share
Share