MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a settlement on Monday worth approximately $600,000 with the former chief executive officer of two now-defunct funding companies that allegedly violated consumer protection laws.
Joseph Rensin, the former CEO of BlueHippo Funding LLC and BlueHippo Capital LLC, is required by the settlement to pay $160,000 to the state for restitution and to cover costs. Rensin also agreed to cancel more than $500,000 in outstanding debt he asserted Wisconsin consumers owed to the companies. In addition, Rensin has agreed not to conduct a similar business in the state for three years.
The complaint alleged that the BlueHippo companies violated state consumer protection law, specifically violations related to deceptive advertising and consumer credit. Rensin and the companies allegedly targeted low-income consumers with poor credit histories, offering to finance computers and other electronic merchandise.
The companies allegedly deceived consumers into believing that they were purchasing computers on credit. After making a few modest payments, the companies alleged, consumers would receive the computers promptly and pay down the balance in the coming months.
In fact, hundreds of consumers did not receive the merchandise in the represented time frame and many never received the merchandise at all. The complaint alleged that the companies also falsely led consumers to believe that they were entitled to free items with their purchase, yet many consumers never received the promised items.
The corporate defendants are not part of this settlement and the state continues to pursue a judgment against them. BlueHippo was sued by six other states in addition to the Federal Trade Commission.
"This settlement will provide some relief to Wisconsin residents who've been harmed, and it will send a message to others that the state will not tolerate this kind of predatory practice," Van Hollen said.