Witness Testifies Against Dallas-Based Payday Loan Lender

Witness being sworn in
The first witness to testify against Dallas-based payday lender, Fast Bucks, broke down on the stand as she recounted her experience with a short-term payday loan she took out.

“I didn’t buy no TV. I didn’t buy no jewelry. I didn’t go on trips,” said Endowa Endwarrior as she told the court how her payday loan of more than 500 percent affected her, according to The New Mexican. “It wasn’t any joyous ride to go to the casino. …It was basically to take care of my family and keep a roof over our head.”

This week marks the beginning of what’s expected to be a seven-day civil trial between the state of New Mexico and Fast Bucks. Attorney General Gary King brought the case against the payday lender, claiming its marketing methods and lending practices were unconscionable. As a result, he is seeking restitution for borrowers who have been harmed by the lender, as per the state of New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act.

The Unfair Practices Act grants borrowers protections from “unfair or deceptive trade practices” that include false or misleading contracts.

“I was starting to get stressed and overwhelmed” Endwarrior continued. “What am I going to do? How am I going to make it? Is it ever possible to get out of this?” she asked as tears welled up in her eyes.

But Kallie Dixon, one of the three lawyers representing Fast Bucks, immediately turned to the contract Endwarrior signed. Dixon projected a copy of the contract onto a screen for the court to see and pointed to the section that said the total cost of the $934 payday loan would be $4,680 if Endwarrior took a year to pay it off.

“You understood what it would cost?” Dixon asked.

“I never paid attention to it,” responded Endwarrior.

Donald F. Kochersberger III, another attorney for Fast Bucks, claimed that all of the payday loan borrowers testifying against his client made decent livings, understood English and were informed what their loans would cost.

Despite the fact that her financing ballooned into more than five times the original amount, Endwarrior said she “was a damn good customer,” as she continued to pay back her loan on her annual income of around $19,000 a year.

New Mexico banned payday loans in 2007, but Fast Bucks continues to operate business by offering installment loans, which are very similar to payday loans, but come with larger principals and longer terms.