Former race-car driver Scott Tucker was arrested by federal agents today on racketeering charges related to his online payday lending operations that court documents say generated more than $2 billion.
In an indictment unsealed today, a New York grand jury charges Tucker with bilking 4.5 million customers through illegal payday loans starting in 1997. In 2003, to elude state regulators, the indictment alleges, Tucker entered into “sham business relationships” with three Indian tribes to shield the operation with tribal sovereign immunity.
The Center for Public Integrity and CBS News exposed Tucker’s relationship to the payday lending business in a series of 2011 articles. At the time, Tucker was best known as a late-blooming and successful driver in the American Le Mans Series.
“Scott Tucker and Timothy Muir targeted and exploited millions of struggling, everyday people by charging illegally high interest rates – as much as 700 percent,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Bharara said agents of the FBI and Internal Revenue Service exposed Tucker’s relationship with Indian tribes as “a criminal scheme.”
The Center’s investigation revealed that Tucker’s deals with three tribes, the Miami and Modoc of Oklahoma, and the Santee Sioux of Nebraska, gave them only 1 percent of the revenues.