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USCC’s “Whistleblower Wednesday” features Another Victim of Operation Choke Point

posted July 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Consumer Coalition (USCC) recently launched the Operation Choke Point “Whistleblower Website” to collect stories of consumers and businesses that have been targeted and adversely affected by Operation Choke Point (OCP). OCP is the Administration’s program to choke off lawful industries’ access to banking services. Today USCC featured its second victim story as part of this ongoing series.

Sandra Perry has for 17 years owned Cash Express, a small business that offers alternative financial products to customers. Like the other Operation Choke Point victims who have come forward, Perry has been unable to get a bank account despite the fact that her business operates lawfully. It has passed all state audits and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Cash Express lost their bank account because the Administration has labeled her industry ‘high risk,’ and has threatened — for political reasons — to scrutinize banks that deal in these targeted industries.

Ms. Perry issued the following statement:

“It seems that the US Justice Department’s investigation under Operation Choke Point is not just about preventing fraudsters from accessing consumers’ bank accounts, but is taking aim at business owners who now find that their lawful businesses have been listed as ‘high-risk’ by their financial institution and may soon be un-bankable. Gun shop owners, money service businesses, money transfer providers, coin dealers, and many other lawful business owners now wonder if they will lose their investment and source of income. My employees are concerned that the job security they once had is over.”

“I am 72 years old and still working, but was hoping Cash Express would be a means of support during my retirement years. As of now, I’m not planning on sipping Mai Tais with pink umbrellas on a sandy beach anytime soon. Keeping a business alive during tough times is not for the faint-hearted, and Operation Choke Point is moving full steam ahead without regard for the loss of jobs and businesses it is destined to bring about.”

“This program is directly affecting the ability of small business owners to continue to offer products and services to their customers,” said Brian Wise, Senior Advisor to USCC. “Regardless of the original motives of this program, this is further evidence that Operation Choke Point is harming law-abiding small business owners, and that is fundamentally un-American. Attorney General Eric Holder must stop this program immediately.”

USCC encourages companies, consumers, and government employees to come forward to share their stories about Operation Choke Point so that this program can be permanently shut down.

The USCC Whistleblower Website can be found at:
www.usconsumers.org/operation-choke-point

See below for Ms. Perry’s story:

Name: Sandra Perry, Owner
Company: Cash Express
Bank: Nevada State Bank, Washington Federal & Wells Fargo (refused to open accounts)
Industry: Short-Term Loans

*Ms. Perry Started a Successful Small Money Service Business in 1997. Perry was a previous recipient of the Ambassador of Courtesy award from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. In 1997, she founded Cash Express, a small, locally-owned business that offers auto title loans and storefront cash loans to customers. The customers who use this service vary from those who need short-term financing for unexpected expenses, to those who exceed six-figure incomes but are still faced with unforeseen situations.

*Excellent Track Record. Cash Express consistently passes annual state audits, currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and has never had a customer complaint filed with the NV Division of Financial Institutions.

*Needed a New Bank Account. Cash Express operates in Mesquite, Nevada, and had banked with Bank of America in Mesquite. When Bank of America closed its Mesquite branch, Perry began searching for another local bank.

*Couldn’t Find a New Bank Because of Her Industry. Perry had maintained the company’s main account in good standing for over 16 years with Bank of America. Yet Perry was refused a new account by Nevada State Bank, Washington Federal & Wells Fargo, who said their banks would not open an account due to her line of business.

*Without a Bank, Business is Threatened. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for Perry to continue running her branch store without a local bank in Mesquite.

*Takes Extra Precautions Due to Operation Choke Point.  Perry is concerned that banks may soon stop accepting her ACH transactions, which many customers request as a convenience in lieu of driving to the store.  Her ACH processing company recently stated that other clients were having bank accounts closed right and left, and that some banks were referring to the ACH process as the reason.

*Stifles Business Growth, Kills Jobs.  Prior to Operation Choke Point, Perry was planning to open a new storefront in another state and hiring an additional employee at her main store in Las Vegas.  Presently, all hiring and business expansion plans are on hold due to the uncertainty caused by Operation Choke Point.

*For Now, Future is In Limbo. Perry is still searching for a new bank for her Mesquite branch, and hopes to soon learn if her business can find one.