October 12, 2006
Plattsburg, Mo. — A Trimble man who promised consumers with bad credit histories that he could get them loans but then failed to do so after receiving advance payment is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon's lawsuit against Greg Atherton, who does business as American Credit Finders, is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, restitution and civil penalties.
Nixon says Atherton works as a loan broker who claims that, in exchange for an advance fee, he can secure loans for consumers who possess either bad or no credit history. Atherton solicited most of his business through his Web site, www.americancreditfinders.com. Nixon alleges that when consumers completed an online application, the defendant would contact them and tell them they were pre-approved for a loan and, in exchange for an advance fee, he would arrange to get the loan proceeds for the consumers. After the consumers paid the defendant, they did not receive the loans and could not contact Atherton to discuss the status of their loan applications because his phone was disconnected.
The Attorney General's Office has been contacted by four out-of-state victims who paid the defendant a total of $600 for loan services but did not receive loans as promised. Some consumers were promised refunds of their advance fees, but have not received them from the defendant to date.
“Someone who preys upon consumers with credit problems, a segment of consumers who can least afford to lose their money, should be ashamed of themselves,” Nixon said. “Our aim is to return to those consumers their hard-earned money in the form of restitution, while getting a court order that prevents Mr. Atherton from taking advantage of others who find themselves in a similar, desperate situation.”
Nixon's lawsuit, filed in Clinton County Circuit Court, asks the court to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions against the defendant, preventing him from continuing to advertise or sell loan broker services. It also requests that the defendant be required to pay full restitution to all consumers victimized by his fraudulent practices; to pay a civil penalty to the state of $1,000 for every violation of Missouri consumer protection laws; to pay to the state an amount of money that equals ten percent of the total restitution ordered against the defendant; and to pay all court, investigative and prosecution costs in the case.