325,000 Consumers Scammed, $192 Million in Illegal Fees, and ZERO Jail Time

Crimes against consumers are low-risk, high reward

Andy Spears


Photo by Campbell Jensen on Unsplash

What happens when hundreds of thousands of consumers lose nearly $200 million in an illegal financing scheme?

According to a cursory glance at consumer finance news, not much in the way of penalties for the wrongdoer.

When a company that provides lease-purchase financing to customers of retailers like Sears and Kmart got caught running a scam that netted them $192 million in fees, the penalty was relatively small.

Tempoe will be forced to pay a small civil penalty and give up future fees totaling about $33 million. All told, the firm will pay about $36 million.

No executives at Tempoe will face jail time.

While the customers, many of whom could not qualify for conventional financing, paid sky-high fees that wreaked havoc on their financial lives, the moneyed scammers are being told to amend their contracts, forego some future cash, and go on about their business.

If this sounds familiar, see also giant banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Two of America’s top five banks have routinely scammed and cheated their customers and chalked up the losses when they got caught to “the cost of doing business.”

The rules remain the same: Those with the gold make the rules.

Banks, finance companies, and nontraditional lenders avoid real accountability while consumers pay the price — and can end up with closed accounts, wrecked credit, civil judgment — and yes, jail time.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .