Joel Tucker not showing up for sentencing in Kansas City


Joel Tucker

Joel Tucker

A Prairie Village man who was due to be sentenced Thursday for a bogus debt-selling and tax evasion scam failed to appear and a federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Joel Tucker, who a top Kansas City prosecutor once called a “well-dressed thief,” pleaded guilty last year to charges of transporting stolen money, fraudulent bankruptcy and tax evasion.

Tucker’s attorneys said he was in Colorado for a critical family situation.

Judge Roseann Ketchmark said it was admirable that Tucker cared about his family, but she said the sentencing date had been set and Tucker had been given reasonable notice. She issued an arrest warrant for him.

She set a new sentencing date for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Once convicted, Joel Tucker will likely join his brother, convicted payday loan racket and former professional racing driver Scott Tuckerin the federal prison system.

Scott Tucker is serving a 16-year, eight-month sentence for running a large, illegal payday loan operation in Overland Park that federal authorities say exploited more than 2 million borrowers.

In Joel Tucker’s case, most of the charges stem from his scheme to sell false consumer information to debt collectors, causing those debt collectors to try to get consumers to pay off debts they didn’t owe. not really. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission won a $4 million judgment against Tucker for the same scam.

Collectors buy unpaid consumer debt from companies, often for pennies on the dollar, and try their own luck to get consumers to pay. Some collectors buy debt from people who have filed for bankruptcy.

Debt portfolios are essentially spreadsheets containing line after line of consumer data — names, addresses, phone numbers, and how much they owe — that are often bought and sold by debt collectors. Some debt buyers take care to verify the authenticity of the wallets they acquire. Others are not.

Tucker’s portfolios listed debts that consumers did not owe or that were fully accrued. At times, he sold wallets believed to be from payday lenders, some of which included brand names belonging to his brother’s companies.

In 2016, a judge in Texas noticed a number of consumer bankruptcy cases that included claims worth $390 from a company called Castle Peak that couldn’t be verified. The judge opened an investigation and found they were from Tucker.

Tucker was called to testify in court about the debts in 2016. When Tucker was ordered to provide the judge with documents supporting the validity of the debts he sold, Tucker created a fake sheet of calculation which he submitted to the court.

Tucker also owes nearly $12 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. As of May, only $512 had been paid for that debt, according to court records. During that time, Tucker spent a lot on himself, like buying a Cadillac Escalade for $105,367, spending some $226,000 on private jets and $50,000 at a private club in the resort town of Vail, Colorado.

All the while, Tucker told an Internal Revenue Service agent that he had no income to pay his tax debt.

Tucker also got a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business administration program that offered money to businesses concerned that the coronavirus pandemic could affect their business. The PPP loan application asked applicants if they were under indictment at the time they applied for the loan. Tucker replied that he was not, which was wrong. He received a loan of nearly $21,000.

While Tucker is likely headed to jail for tax evasion and fake debt sales, he is deeply connected to the Kansas City payday loan scandal that has framed several local men in legal trouble for running businesses that authorities have taken on. like exploitation.

Tucker was a primary owner of eData Solutions, which collected consumer data and sold it to several payday lenders as leads for potential borrowers. eData, which was previously known as Bahama Marketing Group, also sold software to payday lenders.

Tucker and others sold eData Solutions to the Wyandotte Nation Tribe in Oklahoma for $277 million in 2012.

This story was originally published July 8, 2021 10:35 a.m.

Steve Vockrodt is an award-winning investigative journalist who has reported from Kansas City since 2005. Reporting interests include business, politics, justice issues and breaking news investigations. Vockrodt grew up in Denver and studied journalism at the University of Kansas.


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