Six people in the Los Angeles area, accused of offering exorbitant car title loans with interest rates of more than 150 percent, are now charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit loan sharking, according to a press release by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office October 10, 2014.
The six defendants are charged with running a series of unlicensed finance companies offering car title loans to unsuspecting customers who often fell behind on payments and had their vehicles unlawfully repossessed. Many of the victims were Spanish-speakering who had loan terms explained to them in Spanish, but were then asked to sign contracts in English, according to the release.
The companies in question were not properly licensed or bonded, making every loan from those businesses that had an interest rate over the legal maximum, an illegal loan. When consumers couldn’t make payments their vehicles were repossessed. In some instances they were told they had to pay a premium to get their cars back.
Those charged are:
Alex Loxley, 39, of Santa Monica
Daniel Cool Star, 33, of Los Angeles
Mikayel Simonyan, 31, of North Hollywood
David Watkins, 34, of Beaumont
Walter Reyes-Illescas , 28, of Los Angeles
Gustavo Aguirre, 33, of Glendale
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs with the assistance of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Department of Business Oversight and the Department of Homeland Security.
"This investigation and subsequent arrests are another example of the types of fraud AMVIC members are continuously asked to assist with," said Kenny Ehrman, president of the Association of Motor Vehicle Investigators of California (AMVIC) and CSLEA Unit-A vice president. "The expertise our members have in financial crimes and computer forensics make them an invaluable assets to any task force or joint investigation."