The predatory payday lenders dirty tricks multiply faster than the interest their victims have to pay. Steve Hildebrand, one of the leaders of the petition drive to put a 36% interest rate cap on the 2016 ballot, reports that the payday lenders have sent a fake missionary from Atlanta to disrupt Hildebrand’s business, Josiah’s Coffeehouse and Café, in Sioux Falls:
I honestly can’t believe I’m writing this post. I need your help. Many of you have been in Josiah’s over the last two weeks witnessing so-called missionaries bringing in upwards of 50-60 supposed homeless people.
As it turns out, the so-called missionaries were here to target my business – and they were here doing business for the predatory lenders.
Most of you know that I’ve been co-chairing the effort to curb payday lending and car title loans in South Dakota – an effort that is deeply important to me as I so strongly believe that low income South Dakotans deserve a better chance in life than the 574% these companies charge on small loans.
On June 23, a man by the name of Rod Aycox came to Josiah’s. He lied to our staff that he was an old friend traveling through town and would the staff give him my cell phone number. He called me and demanded I meet with him that day. Rod Aycox is the CEO of North American Title Loans and lives in a mansion in Atlanta. He owns the largest predatory car title company in the nation. And, that day, he worked to try to talk me out of our efforts to cap the interest rates on predatory lending.
Shortly there-after, these so-called missionaries showed up in Sioux Falls – and specifically at Josiah’s, with a shameless cover story that they wanted to feed homeless people. Each day for two weeks, they brought upwards of 60 people into Josiah’s – and multiple times each day. The people were disruptive to our staff and to our guests. Their ring-leader was a man who goes by Deacon Pete. His real name is Floyd Pickett – and yesterday I filed trespass orders to keep him off our property here. Mr. Pickett – a so-called missionary – lives in Atlanta and works for Rod Aycox at North American Title Loans.
Mr. Pickett had one mission in South Dakota and that was to disrupt and attempt to hurt my business and me specifically.
Now that we finally have proof that these folks are fakes and phonies and pawns of the predatory lenders, we can deal in a more direct way with authorities to keep them away from Josiah’s for good.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I can’t believe I’m writing these words. I’ve proudly made Josiah’s a great place to hang out and enjoy family and friends in a drama-free environment. It’s time to get back there.
That’s where you come in. I could sure use a lot of familiar and friendly faces to come by – today, tomorrow and in the days ahead. This is YOUR coffeehouse – NOT THEIRS. You are the ones who made this the special place it is today in our community. And I need to see your smiling faces and a few hugs. I’ve said a hundred times, the best part of my life at Josiah’s is all the wonderful people who I’ve come across. I love our customers and I love being here with you.
I’m so sorry that these bad folks have crossed this threshold. I hope today, we can move things forward.
I love you all a lot. And, I thank you for giving us the chance to serve you [Steve Hildebrand, Facebook post, 2015.07.28].
Hildebrand called the cops today, but Floyd Pickett isn’t backing down; he says he’ll bring 150 people to Josiah’s tomorrow.
Father Timothy Fountain, a well-known clerical opponent of usury, finds the payday lenders masquerade appallingly un-Christian:
It is one thing to mount a protest, but these disgusting, idolatrous money grubbers added mockery of Christ himself to the mix [Timothy Fountain, “Pay Day Lenders From Atlanta Send Fake ‘Christian’ Ministry to Harass South Dakotans,” Stand Firm, 2015.07.28].
The payday lenders are committed to protecting their predatory profits by any means necessary. They have filed a frivolous lawsuit delaying Hildebrand’s petition. They are threatening to deploy their own decoy petition. And now Hildebrand says they are disrupting his business.
Boy: whatever happened to just fighting things out democratically at the ballot box?
Update 13:51 CDT: This January 21, 2012 Peoria Journal Star article links a Floyd Pickett, formerly of Peoria, now of Atlanta, with Rod Aycox, the payday lending CEO who paid that curious visit to Hildebrand last month, and Select Management Resources, and Select Management Resources, the company run by Aycox and VP’ed by Erin Ageton, who filed the failed dilatory lawsuit against the Attorney General’s explanation of the interest-rate-cap ballot measure in June.
The owner of one of the country’s largest title lending companies has donated $25,000 to the George Washington Carver Community Center.
Atlantans and former Peorians Floyd and Elois Pickett arranged for the $25,000 gift from the Rod and Leslie Aycox Family Foundation, the charitable arm of Rod Aycox’s Select Management Resources, which operates title loan companies under the name of Loan Max, North American Title Loans, and, in Illinois, Midwest Title Loans.
“I know this is not going to be the last donation,” said Pickett, who does contract work for Georgia-based Select Management Resources.
Pickett said he and his wife have helped the Aycoxes arrange charitable donations for other organizations throughout the United States. On a recent trip to Peoria, he learned Carver was struggling financially.
“We’re in a position to help people throughout the country,” Pickett said, “what about my hometown?”
…Pickett acknowledged the controversies surrounding title loan companies. But, he said, most people don’t know about Aycox’s philanthropy. “This man gives and expects nothing in return”[Pam Adams, “Title Lending Company Donation Will Help Carver Center,” Peoria Journal Star, 2012.01.21].