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15-state coalition argues against payday lenders using tribal affiliations to avoid violations

State AG

By Marian Johns | Jan 7, 2019

General court 07

BALTIMORE — Maryland's Attorney General Brian Frosh is the latest to join a coalition of 15 attorneys general that filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to argue against payday lenders using fake affiliations with Native American tribes as a way to escape state law violations when practicing predatory lending. 

According to Frosh's office, the coalition filed the amicus brief in Williams v. Big Picture Loans LLC, a case involving a group of consumers who filed suit against a Michigan-based payday lender for allegedly using excessive interest rates and alleging "tribal immunity" in order to avoid prosecution, the Attorney General's Office said. 

A Virginia federal court ruled against Big Picture's immunity claim last year due to the company's inability to establish itself as a Native American tribe but Big Picture has appealed the case to the Fourth Circuit, according to Frosh's office. 

“Payday lenders like Big Picture Loans cannot shield themselves from state laws by forming loose and questionable affiliations with federally recognized tribes,” Frosh said in a statement.  “We will do everything we can to make sure that Marylanders do not fall victim to predatory lenders wherever they are based.”

According to the Attorney General's Office, most lenders are required by Maryland's Consumer Loan Law to be licensed by the commissioner of financial regulation with restrictions placed on interest rates.

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Maryland Attorney General's OfficeU.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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