The California Department of Corporations announced it has settled administrative actions against Los Angeles resident Saverio Lanni for making more than 3,000 payday loans without a state license.
Operating under a fictitious business name, Check Exchange, Lanni violated the California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law by making payday loans during the period of January-August 2005. The bogus business operated through four stores, two of which were located in Hemet, and one each in Fontana and Lomita.
"Our department will vigorously pursue repeat violators who flagrantly refuse to abide by laws designed to protect consumers. There are dire consequences to their unlicensed activity," acting Corporations Commissioner Wayne Strumpfer said.
It gets worse for Lanni. In Check Exchange's license application to operate as a payday loan agency, he falsely claimed that he had never been subject to an enforcement action in California and had never had a business license revoked — both of which are blatantly untrue. In January 1980, the California Department of Real Estate revoked Lanni's license as a salesman.
As a result of the settlement, Lanni's pending applications for a license as a payday lender were denied. He agreed not to challenge the desist-and-refrain order previously imposed by the state agency, which also orders Lanni not to engage in any unlicensed payday loan activity.
Furthermore, the Department of Corporations has obtained a preliminary injunction against both Check Exchange and Lanni, an action that is still pending in Los Angeles Superior Court. That action seeks a permanent injunction against Check Exchange from operating a payday loan store without a license and also seeks to impose civil penalties.
It's good news for consumers in Southern California that the state has halted the activities of this unlicensed and facetious agency. When and if a consumer decides to obtain a payday loan, it should always be from a licensed provider.