first report on Commercial Money Center Inc., Growth 1 Funding
Corp. and other advance fee loan companies (Dec/Jan, Land Line),
three OOIDA members - Johnnie L. Banner, Steven D. Long Sr.
and Lonnie Byers - received refunds from Growth 1 and Funder
Direct. However, more small-business truckers have reported
losing thousands to this new breed of loan sharks who promised
equipment financing, took their money and gave them nothing
Lawrence E. McCafferty of Fernley, NV, is still waiting for
his $2,573 refund from Growth 1 for a failed truck financing
deal. OOIDA member Maxie McIntosh of Perris, CA, also paid $2,573
to Growth 1 on April 3, 2001, but the finance company never
came through with the funding. Roxanna Munoz, senior underwriter
for Growth 1, has agreed to look into refunds for McIntosh and
McCafferty. Based in San Diego, CA, Growth 1 is owned by Dane
Moore, but most owner-operators report dealing with Munoz.
five owner-operators reported problems with Commercial Money
Center, headquartered in Las Vegas with an office in Escondido,
CA. Burrell L. Lee Jr., OOIDA member from Radcliff, KY, gave
CMC $5,194.53 in advanced payments plus $220 for processing
fees and $175 for a Quicktrak inspection on May 8, 2001, to
finance a truck. For his money, he received no financing, no
equipment and no refund. The same rings true for owner-operator
Dane Stieben, of Colby, KS, who paid $5,840 to CMC; Phil and
Victoria Stone, of Nortonville, KY, paid $4,520.56 to finance
a trailer with CMC; and Galloway Transport, of Grandville, GA,
who reported to the Federal Trade Commission it paid $2,000
to CMC for financing.
Norton of Boulderick Farms and Norton Refrigeration financed
three trucks through CMC, and then some refrigerated trailers
in October 2000. To finance the trailers, Norton paid $4,787.26
in advanced payments plus a $220 processing fee and $175 for
a Quiktrak inspection. Soon after she picked up the trailers
and had them licensed, the dealership repossessed them because
CMC never paid for the equipment. Since the financing fell through
on the trailers, she asked CMC to apply the trailer down payment
toward her truck payments, but CMC refused. With no trailers
to go with their trucks, Norton's company could not earn enough
money to pay for the trucks and eventually lost them, too.
may have lost up to $5,000 each to CMC, but OOIDA members Darren
Purrier of Las Vegas, Henry Brown of Phoenix, AZ, and Patricia
Breeden of Stafford, VA, are paying CMC's 48-50 percent interest
rates. Purrier says when he confronted CMC about the high interest
rates, he was told the rates were completely legal because it
was a lease, not a loan.
says recent major repair work has made it difficult to keep
up with the lease payments. When the Purriers tried to get a
deferment, a CMC representative told them they must miss the
payment before CMC would send them deferment paperwork. However,
the rep didn't tell the Purriers about the more than $300 in
fees they were charged for the deferment.
the truck he received is not the one described on his paperwork
and he still can't get a legal title for the truck.
CMC is out of business. Attempts to confirm this information
were met with a full voice mailbox at CMC's California office
and a know-nothing receptionist at the Las Vegas headquarters,
where company execs were unavailable for comment. The receptionist
deferred all questions to a Mr. Gwarder (correct spelling not
given), who was in a deposition April 4. However, a representative
at U.S. Bancorp, who now services CMC's lease contracts, did
say the California office is closed, but the Las Vegas office
currently is open.
CMC and Growth 1 received the most complaints from owner-operators,
a few other companies each received one complaint. Of those,
Commercial Leasing of Louisiana, an agent of Florida-based company
International Corporate Finance Ltd., took the most money from
one individual. Marti Wright of South Star Transport in El Paso,
TX, paid Commercial Leasing more than $20,000 to finance three
new trucks, which were repossessed about a month after delivery
because the finance company never paid the dealer. Telephone
numbers for Commercial Leasing are disconnected.
were forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission; the appropriate
state's attorney general and a private attorney for review.
Some owner-operators have sought help from district attorneys
in the counties where these companies operate.
have experienced similar problems, make an official report to
the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and the attorney general in your state
and the state where the company is located. Your attorney general's
office should be listed in the government pages of your local
consumer calls these agencies, they usually will send the consumer
a complaint form. It is very important to follow through with
the complaint by filling out the necessary forms and returning
them to the appropriate agencies along with copies (not originals)
of all relevant documents. As with any business transaction,
keep copies of all contracts, invoices, receipts and correspondence,
including any complaint forms filed with various agencies.
Tankersley, feature editor