Consumers Duped by Illegal Car Title Loans Eligible for Refund: AG Shapiro | news
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — Two out-of-state companies must pay compensation to defrauded Pennsylvania consumers, according to the PA Attorney General’s Office.
Josh Shapiro announced an agreement with Kevin Williams and Mark Williams, owners of Dominion Management of Delaware, and Florida-based Approved Financial.
Dominion Management of Delaware operated as CashPoint, a now-defunct auto title lending business. CashPoint made thousands of illegal loans to Pennsylvania borrowers at annual interest rates in excess of 200%.
As a result of the settlement, Kevin Williams and Mark Williams will reimburse more than $1.5 million in illegitimate interest charges to consumers who were victims of their plan, according to a press release.
These rebates come on top of the $3.2 million in debt relief victims already received as a result of an October 2021 court order. Shapiro initially filed lawsuits against the defendants in 2018 and 2020.
Shapiro reached a similar settlement with Florida-based auto title company Approved Financial over alleged violations of Pennsylvania’s usury laws and unfair and deceptive business practices, the press release said.
Under the terms of the AVC, Approved Financial will cancel all outstanding loans to Pennsylvania consumers. The company will also reimburse Pennsylvania consumers for any fees and interest they have paid, which will result in nearly 200 consumers receiving $21,500 in refunds.
“Because they were based in Delaware and Florida, these defendants thought they could circumvent Pennsylvania laws,” Shapiro said. “But I don’t care where you are, if you’re exploiting consumers in Pennsylvania, you’ll hear from my office. Today’s settlements hold CashPoint and Approved Financial accountable and draw attention to other bad actors.”
Title loans are high-priced installment loans that require the borrower to pledge a vehicle title as collateral. Because title loans are extremely expensive, consumers typically turn to title lenders when they are most vulnerable — such as after losing a job or facing high medical costs. Under Pennsylvania’s usury and extortion statutes, home loans are effectively prohibited because home loans generally charge interest rates well above the Commonwealth’s annual interest rate limit of 6 to 24 percent, the attorney general said.
As part of the CashPoint Settlement, Mark Williams and Kevin Williams are prohibited from knowingly participating in, owning or serving on behalf of any company for a period of seven years after they make their last payment under the Settlement work that provides loans to residents of Pennsylvania.
The CashPoint Settlement was filed with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Assistant Director for Consumer Financial Protection, Nicholas Smyth.
The approved financial settlement was filed with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Assistant Attorney General Debra Warring. The TitleMax litigation was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Claudia Tesoro and Sean Kirkpatrick and Assistant Attorney General Alexander Korn.
Consumers who believe they have been taken advantage of by a similar vehicle rental company can file a consumer complaint online or contact the Office of Attorney General by calling 1-800-441-2555 or emailing [email protected]