Scott Tucker started his first consumer loan business in 1997, but the operations were hardly legal. His payday loan operation, ran in conjunction with attorney Timothy Muir, scammed billions of dollars from desperate American citizens for more than 15 years.When the misdeeds were uncovered, the mastermind claimed:
I saw myself as being an entrepreneur, a jobs provider, and a contributor to the American economy, [but] I’ve learned that others view me through a different lens. I am very sorry that our leaders castigate me as a villain or some type of predator.
Netflix documentary series Dirty Money exposes Tucker's illegal exploits in the "Payday" episode released in January 2018. Surprisingly, the criminal actually used the stolen money to finance his car-driving hobby. Payday loan scams are nothing new, but Tucker's plan was exceptionally horrific. He created shell corporations and even disguised his crimes by claiming the business was operated by Native American tribes.
Scott Tucker Exploited Native Americans' Sovereignty To Evade The Government
Native Americans have been systematically marginalized in North America for a very long time. To compensate for those abuses, the federal government granted Native territories sovereignty in 1832.
Allegedly, Scott Tucker exploited that sovereignty to shield his illegal business from the law. The scam artist reached out to several tribes, offering a percentage of his profits to whomever allowed him to create a company on their lands. Tucker even signed false names on documents to make it seem like certain Native Americans were in charge. Reportedly, his call center employees were encouraged to lie about working on tribal lands. Just one percent of the profits went to the Native American tribes.
The Scam Tricked People Into Paying Interest Rates Of At Least 700 Percent
Scott Tucker's payday loan operation relied on customers who didn't read the fine print. If, for example, someone took out a $300 payday loan, Tucker's company charged a $90 service fee. And every two weeks, the company would take another $90 from the customer's bank account, charging only the service fee without paying any of the principle.
A customer who borrowed $300 could easily spend almost $1000. In fact, the interest rates could skyrocket to 700 percent, vastly exceeding the amount permitted by state laws.
He Offered Payday Loans On The Internet
Payday loans, or short-term, small amount loans, are closely regulated because they can easily become predatory, exploiting desperate people who have few other options. Because of that, the loans are heavily monitored in 18 states.
Scott Tucker avoided the legal restrictions by offering payday loans on the internet. Even people in restrictive states could use his company's services, usually to their own detriment.
He Used The Money To Become A Race Car Driver
Scott Tucker didn't start his racing career until he'd already earned millions from his payday loan scheme. He used the money to hire a coach and buy a $300,000 competition car. Tucker quickly made a name for himself, becoming very well known for endurance racing.
He hired a reporter to follow him around for interviews he posted on YouTube, and he commissioned a documentary about his driving career. The Wall Street Journal even published a glowing profile of Tucker, referring to him as a "wealthy private investor."