On 25 July 2018, the FCA published final notices that it has issued to four former directors and shareholders of Secure My Money Limited (now dissolved), prohibiting them from performing any function relating to any regulated activity:
The final notices state that that between November 2013 and July 2014, the four individuals lacked honesty and integrity by deliberately misleading often vulnerable customers in relation to the nature of services provided and fees charged through web-based brands i-loansdirect, LoanZoo and the 1 loan. The FCA found that the directors made the following breaches:
- Claiming that the firm’s website searched hundreds of lenders and matched customers to the best loan offers when in fact it simply presented all customers with the same standard list of offers (some of which were not even lenders);
- Misrepresenting to customers that they had been approved by a lender for a loan when they had not (with some customers unaware they were dealing with a broker);
- Failing to clarify to customers that they would be charged a fee;
- Misrepresenting that payment card details were required for account verification when they were actually used to charge fees;
- Charging customers monthly “membership fees” without consent; and
- Failing to pay refunds in a timely manner (and in some cases at all).
The FCA has also explained that the bans are the strongest sanction it had available to it, given that the conduct took place before the FCA was given the power to fine individuals at consumer credit firms.