Wonga to pay out £2.6m compensation for fake legal letters

Payday loan provider agrees to redress right after it sent letters threatening legal action from produced-up law firms to customers in arrears

Wonga,the controversial payday lending company, has been forced to shell out £2.6m in compensation, right after it sent fake legal letters from invented law companies to tens of 1000’s of customers.

The organization, which lends men and women up to £1,000 at an yearly percentage curiosity fee of 5,853pc, wrote to 45,000 consumers who had fallen into arrears, posing as “Chainey, D’Amato &amp Shannon” and “Barker and Lowe Legal Recoveries”, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said .

The names have been taken from workers functioning at Wonga.

The regulator mentioned buyers do not need to get any action and that Wonga would contact those impacted shortly

The letters gave clients the impression that their debts had been passed on to a collection company, and threatened them with legal action if they did not repay them. In some cases Wonga added extra expenses to cover the value of the fake letter itself.

The findings come just weeks following Errol Damelin, Wonga’s founder, stepped down as the company’s chairman to “focus on new company ventures”. Final month, it also misplaced its chief executive, Niall Wass, soon after just 6 months. He left to join Uber, the taxi-hailing app.

On Wednesday, Wonga pleaded with buyers to “judge the business in six months time” rather than on its recent operation.

A spokesman said that a search was underway for a new chairman and chief executive to substitute Mr Damelin and Mr Wass, and that the business would be producing “substantive changes” above the coming months.

“The historic debt collection letters had been plainly unacceptable. We are very sorry about these. It is not our proudest day,” stated a spokesman.

The apology will be cold comfort to the thousands of consumers who have been chased by the payday lender, or to public figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby and Labour leader Ed Miliband, who have lambasted its practices.

Mr Miliband accused payday lenders of “bullying, harassment and threats”, and labelled the “Wonga economy” as “one of the worst symbols of this cost of living crisis”.

Rev Welby promised to place Wonga out of enterprise by setting up credit score unions. Nonetheless, his feedback had been undermined by the reality that the Church of England’s Church Commissioners arm has a stake in the payday loan provider, by way of an investment in a single of Accel Partners’ funding rounds. It has withdrawn some of its funds, but nonetheless has all around £100,000 tied up in the controversial organization.

The Financial Carry out Authority ordered the organization to compensate clients and lambasted it for “exacerbating” the troubles of men and women who have been previously possessing issues meeting their repayments.

“Wonga’s misconduct was really serious due to the fact it had the impact of exacerbating an presently hard situation for customers in arrears,” mentioned Clive Adamson, the regulator’s director of supervision.

However, the payday loans firm escaped a fine since the letters had been sent between October 2008 and November 2010, long ahead of it fell under the FCA’s jurisdiction.

The FCA assumed regulatory obligation for Wonga and all client credit score companies in April, taking more than from the Office of Honest Trading, whose powers of oversight were a lot much more restricted.

The financial regulator has appointed a person to make sure all the impacted Wonga clients obtain what they are owed, either in money or as a reduction in any exceptional balance. The process will begin by the middle of next month.