PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon consumers could get their money back from a company that offered illegal car title loans.
A judge ordered the company, which used several aliases including Auto Loans LLC, Car Loans LLC and Sovereign Lending Solutions, to turn over $320,000 in frozen assets.
“I honestly didn’t know that would happen. I’m very excited,” said Veronica Witkowski-Jones.
The McMinnville woman needed cash for a plane ticket after a family member died in August 2014. She found Sovereign Lending Solutions online.
“I didn’t do a lot of research because I was kind of in distress at the moment,” said Witkowski-Jones.
She agreed to pay $257 a month for 12 months. When the final payment was due one year later, Witkowski-Jones sayid the company unexpectedly demanded her to pay another $1,200 and repossessed her car.
“They’re crooked, they’re crooked,” said Kathleen Climer. The Prineville woman also took out an online car title loan. She was charged roughly $16,000 to pay off a $3,500 loan. “I had no idea what I was getting into.”
Roughly 400 Oregonians were deceived into phony loans, using their car title as collateral, according to the Oregon Department of Justice.
The Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Liquidation LLC, claiming the company wasn’t licensed to offer loans in Oregon and charged annual interest rates up to 334 percent.
The Attorney General's office says these loan sharks hid their operations off-shore in the Cook Islands.
“Every time you peeled back a layer, you found three more third party participants and two more PO boxes and another virtual address and another call center somewhere else in the world,” said Althea Cullen of the Oregon Department of Justice.
On Friday, a Multnomah County judge ordered nearly $320,000 dollars in frozen assets from the company go back to Oregon consumers and banned the company from operating in Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Justice provided the following recommendations for Oregonians to protect themselves from illegal title lenders:
- Before applying for a loan, verify the lender you are considering is licensed by visiting stopunlicensedloans.com. All payday or title lenders, including those online, must be licensed by the State of Oregon. Do not do business with unlicensed lenders.
- Never provide your personal account information or Social Security number to any lender just to see its fees, interest rates, or what your loan payments may be, and never send your title to any lender.
- Ensure you receive a written loan agreement for you to read, agree to, and sign it.
- Contact DCBS with questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-814-9710 (toll-free).
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