FIRST ALERT INVESTIGATION: Financing company linked to Summit Contracting under fire from federal watchdog
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Questions from viewers continue pouring in about what they should do about fraudulent loans taken out in their names in connection to a now-closed contracting business.
As we reported earlier, the former owners and salesperson for Summit Contracting Inc. -- Chad Schampers, Gina Schampers, Nate Smith and Jeffrey O’Brien -- have been indicted in federal court on nearly a dozen wire and bank fraud charges.
Federal prosecutors say they used “deceptive, misleading” tactics to get customers to unknowingly take out large loans for home improvement projects but kept the money for themselves.
In the three years since we’ve been airing First Alert Investigations, customers continue to tell us those third-party financing companies are still after them for money from those fraudulent loans.
We’ve now found out GreenSky, one of those companies named in the Summit Contracting federal indictment, is also in trouble with the government for similar practices all over the country.
GreenSky labels itself a “leading technology company,” as written on its website. It’s not listed as a bank.
Instead, it writes that the company “offers frictionless promotional payment options to consumers,” making it fast and easy to get a loan.
The government’s translation of that? What it calls “careless practices” that “enable merchants to take advantage of vulnerable customers.”
We found that statement in documents issued in the last seven months by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency that’s supposed to make sure banks, lenders and financial companies treat you fairly.
Instead, the consumer watchdog agency found GreenSky, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, according to a Consent Order from the Bureau.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Bureau found GreenSky received at least 6,000 complaints from consumers who stated they did not authorize submission of a loan application.
The 57-page order says ”some consumers became aware of the loan for the first time when they saw their credit report or received billing statements, collection letters and calls” from GreenSky.
How’d it happen?
The consumer bureau says GreenSky used “a completely paperless application process,” making it easy for a contracting company or other merchant to fill out the documents electronically, often while sitting in a person’s home, as long as they had information like name, address and Social Security number.
That’s what customers of Summit Contracting have been telling us happened to them since 2019.
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In federal indictments filed against the owners and lead salesman of Summit Contracting, GreenSky was again named, alleging that’s what the former De Pere business was doing.
Several customers have told us they filed complaints and contested paying those fraudulent loans but nothing has changed.
In July, the Bureau said enough, ordering GreenSky to refund and cancel up to $9 million for harmed consumers.
The agency also ordered GreenSky to pay a $2.5 million penalty and put steps in place so it doesn’t happen again.
In a brief notice on its website, GreenSky writes, “without admitting liability or wrongdoing,” (it) agreed to pay the civil penalty, and provide compensation to eligible customers, but the company said that would be capped at $3 million. It also agreed to cancel up to $6 million in loan(s).
This all happened late last summer, but all the local victims who are contacting us, saying they still have issues with GreenSky, also say they haven’t received a penny and their credit ratings have dropped significantly.
They hope a victims-only meeting with local and federal officials, scheduled for Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, will help fix those problems or at least give them a place to start.
We reached out to GreenSky for comment but as of this publication have not received a response.
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