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Missouri Attorney General wins judgment against predatory lender

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Its payback time for an online lender barred from doing business in Missouri. The guy ran his business from a small town in South Dakota.   But his customers live in different parts of the country including Missouri.

This south St. Louis woman is one of seven hundred and eighty five St. Louis consumers who borrowed money from the online lender.  Those same people are named in a consent judgment won on their behalf by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.  'What made me file the complaint was they kept harassing me for more money after I had already paid them the five thousand.'

Marva Deberry needed money for an emergency plumbing project.  She applied on line for a loan with western sky financial, one of the nine entities run by Martin "Butch" Webb.   The problem is Webb is not licensed to lend money in Missouri.  And to make matters worse, he charged excessive fees on short term loans.    Marva made a large payment to cover most of the original loan amount.  But found that western sky took additional payments out of her bank account.   'From what I could get from my account it was like 2500, 3,000 I believe.  That I had paid them that they took out already.'

Because Webb operated his online business on a Cheyenne Indian reservation, he thought that he was entitled to sovereign immunity.  That didn't work in State court.  So he was barred from doing business in Missouri, he can't collect any outstanding debt on existing loans and Missouri has received the court ordered restitution amount of two hundred and seventy thousand dollars.   Marva says there's a lesson for people needing cash quick.   'I know you can check with either the Better Business Bureau or somebody on the practices of those type of companies’ predator type of companies.'

Use extreme caution when applying for a loan online.  You really can't be sure who you're dealing with.  And once you've filled out the application, your personal information could potentially end up in the wrong hands, not to mention the fact that many of these companies are notorious for charging excessive fees.   Contact the Attorney General's office if you have questions.  Call us with your consumer issues.  The toll free number is 800 782-2222.  Operators take calls Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm.  Here's a link to the Attorney General`s website.