On May 10, SoLo Funds, Inc. (Solo), one of the largest community lending platforms in the United States, entered into a settlement with the District of Columbia attorney general (OAG). The settlement resolves claims that the company’s lending practices violated D.C. usury law and constituted unfair, deceptive, and/or abusive acts under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

According to the OAG, SoLo represented itself as a community lending platform that facilitates loans by connecting consumer borrowers with lenders. Its website allegedly advertised interest-free and flexible loans, and it allowed borrowers to set a desired loan amount, payback date, and “appreciation tip” for lenders. The company also allegedly solicited a “platform tip,” which it required lenders to advance on the borrowers’ behalf regardless of whether the loan was ever repaid. Then, to attract lenders to the platform, the company allegedly advertised loan-making as a way to earn a return on capital. According to the OAG, however, SoLo failed to disclose that most loans were never repaid.

Based on these practices, the OAG argued that by soliciting tips, the company facilitated loans with APRs that exceeded 500% in violation of D.C. usury law. The OAG also alleged that by failing to disclose that most borrowers either failed to repay their loans on time or at all, the company engaged in a deceptive practice in violation of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

Under the settlement, the OAG secured injunctive relief, restitution, and a financial penalty. Specifically, SoLo is required to (1) prevent lenders from seeing the existence or the amount of a tip on a loan; (2) ensure that withholding a tip does not impact loan approval or loan terms; (3) clearly disclose that tips are optional, and inclusion of a tip will not impact the ability to borrow; (4) provide honest disclosures about how much a lender can expect to earn; and (5) pay $30,000 to district borrowers for tips and donations they paid.

Why It Matters

The company’s settlement with the OAG has come on the heels of several other regulatory matters. On May 17, SoLo announced that it had resolved a cease-and-desist order issued by the Connecticut Department of Banking in May 2022. Similarly, on May 9, SoLo announced an agreement with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation that permitted it to continue loan-making in the state. State AGs remain focused on protecting people using consumer financial products.

Troutman Pepper State Attorneys General Team

Ashley Taylor – Co-leader and Firm Vice Chair
Ashley is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. He focuses primarily on federal and state government regulatory and enforcement matters involving state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Drawing upon his experience as a deputy attorney general, Ashley has developed an extensive consumer practice with regard to the consumer financial services industry.
Clay Friedman – Co-leader
Clay is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group and co-leader of the State Attorneys General practice. Informed by nearly a decade in a state attorneys general office, and more than 25 years in private practice, Clay spends much of his time representing clients in singular or multistate regulatory actions. Clay has repeatedly led teams before all 50 state attorneys general and also handles matters with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other local, state and federal agencies.
Judy Jagdmann
Judy is a partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy and Enforcement (RISE) practice, based in the Richmond office. She brings experience serving as chair and commissioner of the Virginia State Corporate Commission (VSCC) from 2006 through 2022, which includes regulating the utilities, insurance, banking, and securities industries. She also served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2005-2006.
Stephen Piepgrass
Stephen represents clients interacting with, and being investigated by, state attorneys general and other enforcement bodies, including the CFPB and FTC, as well as clients involved with litigation, particularly in heavily regulated industries.
Avi Schick
A former deputy attorney general of New York, Avi applies his experience in bet-the-company matters, representing clients in criminal and civil investigations and enforcement actions before state and federal regulators, prosecutors and enforcement agencies.
Michael Yaghi
Michael handles high-profile state attorneys general, FTC, and CFPB investigations by advising clients through these complex government inquiries. He assists clients through the entire life cycle of investigations, from regulatory enforcement through formal litigation.
Ketan Bhirud
As a former government official at the state and federal level, Ketan leverages extensive experience in the public and private sectors to skillfully represent client interests.
Tim Bado
Tim is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, with a primary focus on financial services litigation.
Chris Carlson
Chris represents clients in regulatory, civil and criminal investigations and litigation. In his practice, Chris regularly employs his prior regulatory experience to benefit clients who are interacting with and being investigated by state attorneys general.
Natalia Jacobo
Natalia is an associate in the firm’s business litigation practice. She recently received her J.D from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
Namrata Kang
Namrata is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group, based in the Washington, D.C. office. Her work includes advising clients in regulatory investigations and compliance matters, in addition to representing clients in civil litigation matters.
Susan Nikdel
Susan is an associate in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Practice Group, and focuses her practice on consumer financial services matters. She has defended several of the nation’s largest and most influential financial institutions in individual and class action litigation involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and other consumer privacy statutes. Susan also represents banks, fintechs, and financial services companies in connection with regulatory examinations and investigations brought by the CFPB, state attorneys general, and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
John Sample
John represents clients in a wide variety of general and complex litigation matters, shareholder disputes, products liability, and privacy claims.
Whitney Shephard
Whitney is an attorney in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group. She represents clients facing state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, as well as related civil litigation.
Trey Smith
Trey is an associate in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement practice. His experience includes serving as a summer associate at the firm in 2021.
Daniel Waltz
An experienced litigator, Daniel advises and represents regional, national and international companies, financial institutions and insurers in all facets of business, complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation. He is committed to working with his clients to find creative solutions to meet their needs.
Stephanie Kozol
Stephanie is Troutman Pepper’s senior government relations manager in the state attorneys general department.