Action 9 exposes risky online loans

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LONGWOOD, Fla. —

A Longwood man desperate to pay his bills is blaming an online loan company for wrecking his finances.

Action 9 exposed the sky-high interest rates behind loan offers that have now caught the attention of state and federal regulators.

Jason Morris said he was left bankrupt and had to move back in with his parents after he responded to an online loan offer from Moneymutual.com, a loan broker that matches customers with payday lenders that actually send the cash.

Talk-show host Montel Williams is the pitchman for Moneymutual.com.

"He's a trusted Hollywood star, and now you're thinking, ‘Look where I am,'" Morris said.

Morris said he borrowed $2,000 last year.

"We were behind and we needed to catch up, and it's the only thing we could do," Morris said.

The loan payments were automatic and direct from his bank account.

In 10 months, his payments totaled more than $6,000 on a $2,000 loan, and he still owed another $1,000. That equals an interest rate of more than 625 percent.

Morris said the interest rates were buried in fine print.

Consumer groups said they agree online loans can wipe borrowers out.

"They're getting paid through direct access to your bank account, before rent, before mortgages, before any of your other bills," said Tom Feltner with the Consumer Federation of America.

The actual lender was Plain Green Loans, which is based at a Montana Indian reservation, so it's exempt from Florida loan laws.

Congress is considering a law to change that, and the state of Arkansas sued Money Mutual over its practices.

Channel 9's Todd Ulrich asked Morris if he blames the payday loans for where he is today.

"Very much so," Morris said.

Since contacting Channel 9, Morris has cut off the automatic payments and has recovered several hundred dollars.

Money Mutual and Plain Green Loans did not reply to Channel 9's requests for comment.