A data broker who helped scammers steal millions of dollars from payday loan applicants is the target of a lawsuit filed last week by the Federal Trade Commission.
Data broker LeapLab bought hundreds of thousands of payday loan applications of financially strapped consumers, then sold that information to marketers whom LeapLab knew had no legitimate need for it. At least one of those marketers, Ideal Financial Solutions, allegedly used the data, which included Social Security and bank account numbers, to withdraw millions of dollars from consumers’ bank accounts without authorization.
Ideal Financial is a defendant in another FTC case, where it is accused of charging consumers for purported financial products that the consumers never purchased. LeapLab allegedly sold 95 percent of the loan applications it acquired -- which also included the consumer's name, address, phone number and employer -- for 50 cents each to scammers including Ideal.
LeapLab sold the remaining 5 percent of the loan applications to actual online lenders, who paid between $10 and $150 per lead.
The FTC's complaint also notes that LeapLab hired a key executive from Ideal Financial as its own Chief Marketing Officer and should have known that Ideal used the information to make unauthorized debits. Yet the defendants continued to sell the information to Ideal, according to the complaint, which accuses LeapLab of violating the FTC Act's prohibition on unfair practices.