Ex-racing star Scott Tucker's racketeering victims get refunds

  • 28/09/2018
Scott Tucker.
Scott Tucker. Photo credit: Getty

US authorities said on Thursday they were mailing more than US$505 million (NZ$762 million) of refund checks to nearly 1.18 million people who were victimised in a massive payday lending scheme run by former race car driver and convicted racketeer Scott Tucker.

The payout announced by the Federal Trade Commission, which is working with the Department of Justice, stemmed from a US$1.27 billion (NZ$1.5 billion) civil judgment that the FTC won in September 2016 against Tucker, who ran AMG Services, and some of his companies.

The money will go to consumers who obtained loans from seven portfolios once serviced by AMG: Advantage Cash Services, Ameriloan, 500FastCash, OneClickCash, Star Cash Processing, UnitedCashLoans and USFastCash.

Tucker, 56, of Overland Park, Kansas, is appealing his October 2017 conviction on racketeering and other charges, and his 16-year, eight-month prison sentence.

His case arose from a federal crackdown on people who exploit cash-strapped consumers by charging exorbitant interest rates and fees on short-term loans, some of which could tide over borrowers from paycheck to paycheck.

Prosecutors said Tucker's companies routinely charged interest rates as high as 700 percent, and took advantage of more than 4 million consumers from 1997 to 2013.

Tucker is arguing in his appeal that the trial judge gave flawed jury instructions, and wrongly prevented him from offering proof to support his view that state interest rate caps did not apply to his loans.

The US$1.27 billion judgment is the largest litigated judgment won by the FTC.

A lawyer who defended AMG in the early stages of that case, Andrew Smith, is now director of the FTC consumer protection bureau.

US Bancorp, where Tucker was a longtime customer, agreed in February to a US$528 (NZ$797 million) million penalty for violations of the federal Bank Secrecy Act, including for failing to report Tucker's suspicious activities in a timely manner.

Tucker's fall from grace was documented in Netflix series Dirty Money.

Reuters / Newshub.