Allied Progress Presents Its Final Nominees for The Payday Lenders Hall of Shame


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress unveiled the sixth and final round of nominees to the Payday Lender Hall of Shame as the public comment period heats up over the Trump-CFPB proposal to tear away a critical consumer protection against the pay loan debt trap. Spoiler Alert: each and every nominee from the predatory lending industry are winners under the Trump administration’s plan to tear up the ability-to-repay standard.

“It’s tough to choose the worst of the worst among so many disreputable characters in the payday loan industry whose resumes include everything from engaging in a Ponzi scheme to spreading racist vitriol, and who have collectively racked up millions of dollars in fines and settlements for fleecing consumers,”said Patrice Snow, spokeswoman for Allied Progress. “At the end of the day, all predatory lenders will win if the Trump administration allows the industry to authorize their mafia-like 400 percent interest loans to vulnerable people they know cannot repay them in time – raking in $7 billion more a year while millions more borrowers find themselves in a nearly unescapable high-debt situation. If Trump gets his way, the only losers here are consumers.” 

And Here Are The Final Nominees: from a CEO who laughably and falsely argued payday regulations were a “bigger abuse of power than Watergate”, to an industry executive whose company was sued by investors for allegedly artificially inflating its stock by making false and misleading statements which wound up costing shareholders millions of dollars, to another executive tied to academic research manipulated by the payday industry for its own benefit — these are the types of unscrupulous people the Trump administration wants to make richer with its proposal to rollback a Richard Cordray-era rule requiring payday and car-title lenders to consider a borrower’s ability-to-repay before making a high-interest loan.

Without this check in the system, the floodgates will open for millions of consumers – particularly in communities of color – to fall into cycles of debt where borrowers take out new high-interest loans to pay off old loans, over and over again. It is no coincidence that the Trump administration is advancing a top priority of the payday lender lobby after the industry donated over $2.2 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration and political committees and after the Community Financial Services Association Of America (CFSA), the payday industry’s national trade group, came out in early and vocal support of Kathy Kraninger’s nomination to the CFPB.

Last week, Allied Progress sponsored national digital ads and a mobile billboard outside the Trump National Doral Golf Club where a 4-day conference was being hosted for members of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA), the payday industry’s top trade group. The ritzy ‘Payday Party’ came a little more than a month after the Trump administration released its payday protection rollback scheme. The ads called attention to the inappropriate and lucrative relationship between Trump world and payday loan sharks, and encouraged viewers to visit PaydayParty.org and commit to submit a public comment against the CFPB payday proposal.

See the previous nominees for the Payday Lender Hall of Shame HEREHEREHEREHERE, and HERE.

What You Need To Know:

Ted Saunders, Community Choice Financial: Payday Lender Who Claims That Regulation Is Akin To Watergate

Ted Saunders Complained About Regulations On Payday Lending—And Compared Them To Watergate.

Ted Saunders Is The Chairman And CEO Of Community Choice Financial, A Payday Lending Company.

Ted Saunders is the Chairman And CEO Of Community Choice Financial, Inc. [LinkedIn Profile for Ted Saunders, accessed 03/27/19]

  • CheckSmart Is An Ohio-Based Payday Lender. “CheckSmart has come under attack again from consumer groups for one of its products, just as its parent company prepares to take the Dublin-based payday lender public.” [Mark Williams, “Payday lender’s debit card criticized,” The Columbus Dispatch, 05/05/12]

Ted Saunders Called Regulation On Payday Lenders “‘A Bigger Abuse Of Power Than Watergate.’”

Ted Saunders Called “Regulatory Pressure” On Payday Lenders Such As Community Choice Financial “‘A Bigger Abuse Of Power Than Watergate.’” “Community Choice Financial Inc. has been ensnared in the federal government’s efforts to stamp out businesses deemed objectionable, CEO Ted Saunders says. The Dublin-based parent of CheckSmart and other payday lending and check-cashing businesses has seen five business relationships with banks and other service providers ‘inexplicably’ cut off over the last year, Saunders said, and he suspects the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point. ‘We had a 20-year relationship terminated directly as a result of regulatory pressure,’ Saunders told me. ‘It’s a bigger abuse of power than Watergate.” [Evan Weese, “Community Choice Financial CEO blasts feds over Operation Choke Point,” Columbus Business First, 06/17/14]

Ted Saunders Is “‘Proud’” To Offer High-Interest Products Like A Prepaid Debit Card With Interest Rates That Go As High As 400 Percent.

Ted Saunders Said He Was “Proud” To Offer Products Like A Prepaid Debit Card That Could Charge Customers A 400 Percent Interest Rate.

Ted Saunders Said He Was “‘Proud’” To Offer Products Including Prepaid Debt Cards That Charge Up “To A 400 Percent Annual Interest Rate.” “CheckSmart has come under attack again from consumer groups for one of its products, just as its parent company prepares to take the Dublin-based payday lender public. The groups, led by the National Consumer Law Center, have complained to federal regulators about CheckSmart’s prepaid debit card, which they say allows the company to get around state law limiting interest rates on payday loans, including Ohio’s 28 percent cap imposed in 2008 by voters. Instead, the company can charge what works out to a 400 percent annual interest rate. […] ‘I find the allegations to be baseless,’ Ted Saunders said. ‘We have the most comprehensive and consumer-friendly set of prepaid cards offered in the marketplace, and we’re proud to provide them.’” [Mark Williams, “Payday lender’s debit card criticized,” The Columbus Dispatch, 05/05/12]

According To The National Consumer Law Center, High-Interest “Loans Trap Borrowers In A Cycle Of Expensive Long-Term Debt Causing Serious Financial Harm.”  “The prepaid cards offer customers the ability to directly deposit all or a portion of their payroll checks onto the cards. The cards also provide overdraft protection that Community Choice says offers lower fees than traditional banks and allows customers to load loans directly on to the cards, the filing says. […] ‘Research shows that these loans trap borrowers in a cycle of expensive long-term debt causing serious financial harm, including increased likelihood of bankruptcy, paying credit-card and other bills late, delayed medical care, and loss of basic banking privileges due to overdrafts,’ according to the letter the National Consumer Law Center and other groups sent to Curry. ‘Moreover, CheckSmart’s direct-deposit requirement could cause consumers to switch from a bank account to a prepaid card and thus become unbanked.’” [Mark Williams, “Payday lender’s debit card criticized,” The Columbus Dispatch, 05/05/12]

Don Gayhardt, CURO: Overselling The Value Of Payday Loans To Consumers And Investors Alike

Longtime Payday Lending Executive Donald Gayhardt Believes That High-Interest Payday Loans Are A “‘Bargain’” For Borrowers.

Donald Gayhardt Is The President And CEO Of CURO, Which Operates Payday Lending Companies Speedy Cash And Rapid Cash.

Donald Gayhardt Is The President And Chief Executive Officer Of CURO. [“Industry Leading Leadership Team,” CURO, accessed 03/27/19]

CURO Group Is “One Of America’s Biggest Payday Lenders,” Which “Lends Online” And “Operates 405 Outlets In The US And Canada,” “One of America’s biggest payday lenders has floated on the stock market with a $620m valuation, cashing in on mounting hopes that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress will ease regulatory restrictions on the sector. Curo Group, which targets ‘underbanked’ consumers and is behind WageDayAdvance in the UK as well as Speedy Cash in the US, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. […] Based in Wichita, Kansas, the company charges consumers as much as $25 for every $100 they borrow. It lends online and also operates 405 outlets in the US and Canada, although it is closing its 13 UK branches. Curo, backed by the private equity group Friedman Fleischer & Lowe, raised $93m by selling a 15 per cent stake in the float. The shares were priced at the bottom of a targeted range of between $14 and $16 a share. The business was founded by Doug Rippel, who is executive chairman, along with Mike McKnight and Chad Faulkner. It is run by Don Gayhardt, chief executive, who received a $2m pay package last year.” [Alistair Gray, “Payday lender Curo floats with $620m valuation,” Financial Times, 12/07/17]

  • CURO Owns Payday Lending Companies Speedy Cash And Rapid Cash. “CURO Group owns the Speedy Cash franchise, which has three stores in the Kansas City area. It also owns the Rapid Cash brand in the U.S., the Wage Day Advance and Juo Loans brands in the U.K., and the Cash Money and LendDirect brands in Canada.” [James Dornbrook, “Shareholders seek class action against payday lender,” Kansas City Business Journal, 12/07/18]

Don Gayhardt Claimed That Payday Loans Are A “‘Bargain’” And “‘Enhance The Economic Well-Being Of People.’”

Don Gayhardt Claimed That “’Payday Loans Are Not Predatory’” And That They “’Enhance The Economic Well-Being Of People.’” “Industry executives […] argue that payday loans are the more affordable route for people who find themselves in desperate need of money. ‘If it only cost $10 to bounce a check, I’m not sure we would have nearly as big a payday loan industry,’ says Don Gayhardt, president of Dollar Financial, a payday lender. ‘Payday loans are not predatory. We enhance the economic well-being of people.’” [Michelle Singletary, “Payday Loans: Costly Cash [Column],” The Washington Post, 02/25/07]

  • Gayhardt Said That Payday Loans Were A “‘Bargain.’”“Just last month 15 million people took out payday loans, Gayhardt said. ‘I think consumers understand the bargain they get with a payday loan,’ he said.” [Michelle Singletary, “Payday Loans: Costly Cash [Column],” The Washington Post, 02/25/07]

Don Gayhardt’s Company Was Sued By Investors For Allegedly Making False And Misleading Statements After He Admitted That It Made A “Mistake” In Portraying Its Earnings To Shareholders.

In December 2018, Investors Sued CURO For Allegedly “Artificially Inflating Its Stock By Making False And Misleading Statements,” Costing Shareholders “Millions Of Dollars.”

In December 2018, Investors Sued CURO Group Holdings For Allegedly “Artificially Inflating Its Stock By Making False And Misleading Statements, Which Caused Shareholders To Lose Millions Of Dollars.” “Investors in Wichita-based payday lender CURO Group Holdings accused company management of artificially inflating its stock by making false and misleading statements, which caused shareholders to lose millions of dollars. CURO Group owns the Speedy Cash franchise, which has three stores in the Kansas City area. It also owns the Rapid Cash brand in the U.S., the Wage Day Advance and Juo Loans brands in the U.K., and the Cash Money and LendDirect brands in Canada. An investment group based in Seal Beach, Calif., called Yellowdog Partners LP, which was buying and selling CURO stock on a short-term basis, filed a lawsuit in Kansas federal court against CURO Group. Yellowdog hired Ryan Hudson and Larkin Walsh of Rex A. Sharp PA in Prairie Village, as well as attorneys from Keller Lenkner LLC in Chicago and New York. The plaintiff seeks class-action status on behalf of all shareholders in the company.” [James Dornbrook, “Shareholders seek class action against payday lender,” Kansas City Business Journal, 12/07/18]

Don Gayhardt Admitted The Company Made A “‘Mistake’” Communicating Earnings To Investors: “‘We Did A Less Than Stellar Job.’”

In October 2018, Don Gayhardt Admitted The Company Made A “‘Mistake’” Communicating Earnings To Investors: “‘We Did A Less Than Stellar Job.’” “During an Oct. 25 conference call with analysts, CURO Group CEO Donald Gayhardt apologized for the big difference in earnings guidance, calling the lack of transparency a mistake. ‘I think it’s a very fair criticism that we did a less than stellar job of explaining in probably our July call, and even back into our April call what was going – the impact of this on sort of in the near term,’ Gayhardt said during the conference call. ‘… (We) probably didn’t lay it out for everybody as explicitly as we probably should have. And we’ll try not to make that mistake again.’” [James Dornbrook, “Shareholders seek class action against payday lender,” Kansas City Business Journal, 12/07/18]

Melissa Soper, CURO: Payday Executive With Ties To Industry-Manipulated Research

Longtime Payday Lending Executive Melissa Soper Worked At Dollar Financial Group When It Funded An Academic Study That Was Manipulated By The Payday Industry To Dismiss Arguments Against Payday Loans—And Chaired The Industry Trade Group’s “Research Committee.”

Melissa Soper Is The Vice President Of Public Affairs At CURO, Which Operates Payday Lending Companies Speedy Cash And Rapid Cash.

Melissa Soper Is The Senior Vice President Of Public Affairs At CURO. [“Industry Leading Leadership Team,” CURO, accessed 03/27/19]

CURO Group Is “One Of America’s Biggest Payday Lenders,” Which “Lends Online” And “Operates 405 Outlets In The US And Canada,” “One of America’s biggest payday lenders has floated on the stock market with a $620m valuation, cashing in on mounting hopes that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress will ease regulatory restrictions on the sector. Curo Group, which targets ‘underbanked’ consumers and is behind WageDayAdvance in the UK as well as Speedy Cash in the US, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. […] Based in Wichita, Kansas, the company charges consumers as much as $25 for every $100 they borrow. It lends online and also operates 405 outlets in the US and Canada, although it is closing its 13 UK branches. Curo, backed by the private equity group Friedman Fleischer & Lowe, raised $93m by selling a 15 per cent stake in the float. The shares were priced at the bottom of a targeted range of between $14 and $16 a share. The business was founded by Doug Rippel, who is executive chairman, along with Mike McKnight and Chad Faulkner. It is run by Don Gayhardt, chief executive, who received a $2m pay package last year.” [Alistair Gray, “Payday lender Curo floats with $620m valuation,” Financial Times, 12/07/17]

  • CURO Owns Payday Lending Companies Speedy Cash And Rapid Cash. “CURO Group owns the Speedy Cash franchise, which has three stores in the Kansas City area. It also owns the Rapid Cash brand in the U.S., the Wage Day Advance and Juo Loans brands in the U.K., and the Cash Money and LendDirect brands in Canada.” [James Dornbrook, “Shareholders seek class action against payday lender,” Kansas City Business Journal, 12/07/18]

While Melissa Soper Worked At Dollar Financial Group, The Payday Lender Funded A “Research” Organization That Financed And Manipulated An Academic Study That Dismissed Arguments Against Payday Loans.

Melissa Soper Worked For Dollar Financial Group In 2011.In 2011, while working for Dollar Financial Group, Melissa Soper was on the board of directors for the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). [“CFSA Board of Directors,” Community Financial Services Association via Wayback Machine, archived 10/31/11]

The Consumer Credit Research Foundation (CCRF) Paid A Professor Nearly $40,000 To Produce A 2011 Study That Dismissed Arguments Against Payday Loans And Directed Him “To Remove Negative Information.” “Internal Arkansas Tech University documents reveal a close working relationship between the payday lending industry and the author of a key academic paper. The Consumer Credit Research Foundation (CCRF), an industry trade group, paid a professor at the Arkansas Tech University College of Business, nearly $40,000 to produce the study, and CCRF’s chairman edited the study and directed the professor to remove negative information. Unsurprisingly, the paper concluded payday loans are not responsible for a ‘cycle of debt,’ an important industry talking point.” [Press Release, Campaign for Accountability, 11/02/15]

  • CCRF Was “Funded By Dollar Financial Group” And Other Companies. “A CCRF official says the foundation isfunded by Dollar Financial Group, which owns several payday lendingoperations, and other companies.”[Amy Thomson, “Groups: Fee Nondisclosure Costly,” American Banker, 06/10/05]
  • The Controversial Study Was Published In 2011.“Arkansas Tech released emails of college of Business Professor Marc Anthony Fusaro, one of the authors of a 2011 paper on payday loans that concludes payday loans are not responsible for the cycle of debt.” [“Academic Deception,” Campaign for Accountability, 10/27/15]

At The Time, Soper Was On The Board Of Directors Of The Payday Industry’s Trade Group—And Chaired Its “Research Committee.”

In 2011, Melissa Soper Was Chair Of The “Research Committee” For CFSA, The Payday Lending Industry’s Trade Group. In 2011, while working for Dollar Financial Group, Melissa Soper was on the Board of Directors for the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). [“CFSA Board of Directors,” Community Financial Services Association via Wayback Machine, archived 10/31/11]

  • The Community Financial Services Association Of America Is “The Payday Lending Industry’s Trade Group.” “The payday lending industry’s trade group, the Community Financial Services Association of America, didn’t respond to requests for comment.” [Victor Reklaitis, “One potential winner from the government shutdown — payday lenders,” MarketWatch, 01/11/19]

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