Harrisburg, Pa. — Two out-of-state businesses will have to compensate Pennsylvania consumers who were scammed, according to the AP Attorney General’s Office.
Josh Shapiro has announced a settlement 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 borrowers in Pennsylvania at annual interest rates exceeding 200%.
As a result of this settlement, Kevin Williams and Mark Williams will repay more than $1.5 million in illegal interest charges to consumers who fell victim to their scheme, according to a press release.
These refunds are in addition to the $3.2 million in debt forgiveness the victims have already received following an October 2021 court order. Shapiro originally filed suit against the defendants in 2018 and 2020.
Shapiro entered into a similar settlement with Florida-based auto title lender Approved Financial for alleged violations of Pennsylvania usury laws and unfair and deceptive business practices, according to the press release.
Under the terms of the AVC, Approved Financial will cancel all outstanding loans to Pennsylvania consumers. The company will also reimburse consumers in Pennsylvania for all fees and interest they paid, resulting in nearly 200 consumers receiving refunds totaling $21,500.
“Because they were based in Delaware and Florida, these defendants believed they could evade Pennsylvania laws,” Shapiro said. “But I don’t care where you are, if you’re exploiting consumers in Pennsylvania, you’re going to hear from my office. Today’s settlements hold CashPoint and Approved Financial accountable and warn other bad actors.
Title loans are high cost installment loans that require the borrower to pledge a vehicle title. 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 major medical bills. Under Pennsylvania’s usury and racketeering laws, title lending is effectively prohibited because title lenders typically charge interest rates well above the Commonwealth’s 6-24% annual interest limit, according to the Attorney General.
Under the CashPoint settlement, Mark Williams and Kevin Williams are prohibited from participating in, owning, or knowingly working for any company that extends credit to residents of Pennsylvania, for a period of seven years after making their last payment in the framework of the regulations.
The CashPoint settlement was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Director of Consumer Financial Protection Nicholas Smyth.
The approved financial settlement was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia by Senior Deputy Attorney General Debra Warring. The TitleMax litigation was handled by Senior Deputy Attorneys General Claudia Tesoro and Sean Kirkpatrick and Deputy Attorney General Alexander Korn.
Consumers who believe they have been taken advantage of by a similar car title lender can file a consumer complaint on line or contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-441-2555 or emailing [email protected]ttorneygeneral.gov.