At the inquiry of the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. district court has halted a Tampa, Florida-based operation that promised to help clients get payday loans.

Odafe Stephen Ogaga and Sean C. Mulrooney and several firms they controlled used clients’ personal financial information to debit their bank accounts in increments of $30 without their authorization.

Claiming to be related to with a network of 140 potential payday lenders, the defendants misrepresented that 90 percent of applicants got loans in as soon as an hour, according to the complaint filed by the FTC.

In all, the defendants victimised tens of thousands of clients, taking more than $5 million from their bank accounts. Many of the victims were in tough financial straits to begin with, and as an added insult, often began receiving harassing telecommerce and debt collection calls shortly when the defendants created their unauthorized withdrawals.

Consumers who complained to Defendants’ Philippines-based client service agents were frequently offered refunds and $100 gasoline vouchers that ne'er materialized.

Ogaga and Mulrooney apparently used proceeds from their prohibited scheme to finance a lavish life-style. Mulrooney is the registered owner of a 2012 Maserati GranTurismo, while Ogaga owns a 2006 Ferrari 430 and a 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost, according to documents filed with the court.

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