This story by Alan Pyke about a predatory lending company caught my eye today:

MoneyMutual will pay a $2.1 million settlement to New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) and stop doing business in the state following an investigation that found the loans its customers received violate state law. New York sets a 16 percent annual percentage rate (APR) cap on this type of borrowing, and while MoneyMutual does not make loans itself, it connected hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to lenders who charge rates as high as 82 times the state limit.

Syndicated talk-show host and actor Montel Williams became the company’s face in 2009, lending a familiar and trusted voice to thousands of print, radio, and TV ads. MoneyMutual has trafficked on his reputation more explicitly than a typical celebrity endorsement. The company often told worried customers that “Montel Williams has endorsed MoneyMutual and would not do so if it were not a legitimate company,” according to DFS. Williams will continue to serve as national pitchman for the company, but all its promotional materials must now state that New York residents are not eligible for the service being advertised due to state law.

Every other state should follow New York’s lead and force these parasites out of business. And as for Montel Williams, I’m saddened that anyone still considers him a “familiar and trusted voice” after all those years of enabling psychic fraud Sylvia Browne and others who prey on gullible people. Williams has no more integrity than the slimeball institution he was shilling for — as a paid endorsement, not out of the goodness of his heart.

Previously on Harris Online…