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State sues El Paso payday lender, claims loan shark operation

May 23, 2006 - El Paso, Texas

An El Paso judge has frozen the assets of a payday loan business as part of a lawsuit by state officials charging that the company is really a loan-sharking operation targeting military personnel.

State Commissioner of Consumer Credit Leslie Pettijohn accused John A. Gill Jr., owner of Advance Internet and Texas Advance Internet, of making short-term cash advance loans at inflated interest rates.

The 21-page lawsuit filed in El Paso last week alleges that Gill, whose company was not licensed in Texas, charged as much as 782 percent interest and offered Internet service as a perk for doing business with the company.

The suit also charges that Gill of Phenix City, Ala., targeted military personnel by putting his loan stores "conspicuously close" to military bases in El Paso, Coryell, Bell and Bexar counties.

Gill, whose listed telephone number is disconnected, could not immediately be reached for comment.

News Source

Star-Telegram, AP Reporter

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