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New York’s Lawsky Accuses Condor Capital of Theft

Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s top banking regulator, sued Condor Capital Corp., claiming the sub-prime auto lender stole millions of dollars from low-income customers and risked exposing their personal information.

Lawsky accused Condor and its sole owner, Stephen Baron, of “egregious mismanagement” in a complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court. The suit is the first to be filed by a state regulator using a consumer protection provision of 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, Lawsky said in a statement today.

“The defendants bilked millions of dollars from vulnerable borrowers who could least afford it,” Lawsky said in the statement. “We are taking swift action today to stop them from abusing any more consumers and help obtain relief for those who were victimized.”

Baron declined to comment, saying he was unaware of the filing.

Lawsky, New York’s superintendent of financial services, has also set his sights on bigger targets. He’s investigating whether Credit Suisse Group AG helped U.S. clients evade taxes in offshore accounts. His office is also investigating American International Group Inc.’s marketing of insurance from New York to overseas clients.

Condor, of Hauppauge, New York, buys and services auto loans made to people whose credit ratings don’t qualify them for prime lending rates, Lawsky said in the complaint.

Longstanding Scheme

The company carried out a “longstanding scheme” to steal from its low-income customers by failing to disclose positive credit balances on their accounts, resulting from overpayments, insurance payments, trade-ins and other sources, he said.

Lawsky asked the court to appoint a receiver to take over the firm and to order Condor to pay the customer balances. He won a temporary restraining order against Condor and Baron, according to the statement. A hearing on a broader order is scheduled for April 29.

The case is Lawsky v. Condor Capital Corp., 14-cv-2863, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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