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August 23, 2019

6/22/2019 7:28:00 AM
Federal racketeering suit filed against LdF Tribal lenders
By Abigail Bostwick
of the lakeland times

Lac du Flambeau Tribal lenders are being accused of perpetrating a usury scam with internet loans at interest rates with more than 600 percent annual percentage rate, according to a recently filed class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Lac du Flambeau (LdF) owns and controls various business ventures through the LdF Business Development Corporation (BDC) - including LdF Holdings, which makes or services high interest payday or installment loans across the United States. This includes RadiantCash.

Plaintiff Isiah Jones, III, Chester, Penn., and "other citizens of Pennsylvania," name Joseph Wildcat Sr., president of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, as well as numerous BDC board members and LdF Holdings employees, in the suit.

Jones is said to have been "short on cash and in need of a small loan for personal, household and family related expenses" in late 2017. Without good credit, Jones reportedly could not find a loan from a conventional lender and went online, where he found RadiantCash. Through the application process, he was approved and gave his personal bank information over the phone for withdrawals to repay the loan, which was awarded for $400.

Radiant charged Jones interest on the loan at 690 percent annual percentage rate (APR) with the loan payable in 14 bi-weekly payments of $110.24. Jones signed the agreement online from his computer.

For several months, Radiant is said to have taken at least 10 withdrawals from Jones' account totaling about $1,102. It was at that point Jones refused further withdrawal authorizations and Radiant found Jones had defaulted on the loan.

The class action allegations state that Jones is seeking to represent he and other Pennsylvania citizens who received internet loans serviced by LdF Holdings at an interest rate at or more than 12 percent per annum not licensed in their state. It would include anyone who had such loans for up to four years prior to the filing. Four years is the statute of limitations on a racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) act suit.

The defense claims the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholds that internet lenders doing business in their state must comply with Commonwealth banking laws and usury regulations. LdF leaders were on notice of this, but "nevertheless authorized tribally owned and operated enterprises to issue, collect and service loans over the internet to citizens of Pennsylvania at rate of interest many times the legal rate in Pennsylvania, the complaint states."

Jones claims he suffered an injury - specifically about $600 in unlawful interest he "did not legally owe." All other class members also suffered similar injuries, it is indicated.

Requested for relief are awards in damages three times the debt collected from Jones and the class as well as attorney fees and costs.

"LDF Business Development Corporation and LDF Holdings, wholly-owned entities of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, are aware of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Jones against some board members and employees," noted Kim Swisher, Kim Swisher Communications, which handles public relations for the Tribe, on behalf of the Tribe. "The companies believe the claims in the suit are meritless and intend to vigorously defend the allegations in the lawsuit."

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