Ian “Lifetime Ban” MacKechnie

of Amscot Financial, Inc.

In 1986, Ian MacKechnie moved his family from Scotland to America and settled in Tampa, Florida where he started Amscot, a leading payday lender and one-time insurance company.

Twelve years later, MacKechnie and Amscot were charged with fraud and racketeering. Criminal charges against MacKechnie were reportedly dropped in exchange for his agreeing to a lifetime ban on selling insurance in Florida and Amscot’s guilty plea to civil charges on racketeering. That didn’t stop his payday lending business though.

Over the years, MacKechnie has laughably said that he sympathizes with his hard-luck customers all the while he defends charging them triple digit interest rates on their payday loans. Despite being charged with fraud and imposing triple digit interest rates, MacKechnie claims that he has never taken advantage of a single customer, ever.

MacKechnie has also called critics of the payday lending “elitist” and opposes federal oversight of the industry.

Payday lending has paid off for MacKechnie and his family. He has been ranked among the top 50 wealthiest individuals in Scotland for years. In 2012, his family’s estimated net-worth was nearly $238 million. He owns a $2.8 million water-front mansion in Tampa as well as a condo in an exclusive Miami Beach high-rise on the water that has been valued at as much as $6 million.

Tampa

MacKechnie owns this 5,170 square foot $2.8 Million home in Tampa, Florida

It’s paid off for others too. During the past three election cycles, MacKechnie has contributed nearly $330,000 to the campaigns of Members of Congress and payday lending special interest PACs, which have also donated large sums of money to the campaigns of elected officials.

 

The Details

MacKechnie Had Been Charged with Fraud and Racketeering, Banned from Selling Insurance for Life in Florida in Settlement

  • 1998: Then-Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson conducted undercover sting against MacKechnie’s insurance company, which led to fraud and racketeering charges and a lifetime ban on MacKechnie selling insurance in Florida. Then-Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson’s “accusation that Amscot tried to trick him and other customers into buying unwanted add-ons for their auto insurance, such as towing services…forced Amscot founder Ian MacKechnie to sell his company’s insurance operations, while his company pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. The uproar indelibly sullied the Amscot name. Or did it? The Amscot name is now emblazoned on a West Shore office building off I-275 in Tampa, and its owner, MacKechnie, presides over one of the fastest-growing financial companies in the Tampa Bay area. Amscot has grown to 46 neighborhood outlets, with leases to open in 24 more locations, including its first in Orlando. MacKechnie says he doesn’t care that his tiff with state insurance regulators led to a lifetime ban on selling auto insurance in Florida. The rest of his bay area financial empire – cashing checks, offering payday loans with high interest rates and other services geared to high-risk customers – has more than compensated. This year, MacKechnie said, he expects Amscot to cash about $600-million worth of checks, provide $160-million worth of payday advances, sell $$500-million worth of money orders and provide $100-million worth of advance checks for income tax refunds.” [St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/03]
  • Florida Department of Insurance investigated Amscot for systematically ‘sliding’ add-ons such as towing charges and legal services into auto policies, which led to Amscot pleading guilty to civil charges on racketeering in return for criminal charges being dropped against MacKechnie. “By 1986, the Florida Department of Insurance started investigating complaints that Amscot was systematically ‘sliding’ add-ons such as towing charges and legal services into auto policies, ballooning the cost by an average of $100 a year. The insurance commissioner said that when he went undercover at an Amscot location he asked for the minimum policy required under Florida law but an agent sold him a policy that included a towing and car-rental add-on. In August 1998, Amscot pleaded guilty to civil charges of racketeering for duping auto insurance customers and agreed to exit the insurance business. In return, state prosecutors agreed not to pursue criminal charges against MacKechnie.” [St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/03]

MacKechnie Claimed Triple Digit APR’s Were Reasonable…

  • MacKechnie defended 300% APR’s “as reasonable” and claimed “he sympathizes with his hard-luck customers.” “Not that he has left controversy behind him since settling with state regulators. Financial lending to the poor remains a sensitive, high-risk and sharply criticized industry, particularly payday advance loans. The short-term loans, which are essentially advances on a worker’s salary, carry annual percentage rates of up to 300 percent. MacKechnie defends the short-term interest charges as reasonable. A $50 fee for a $$500 loan is cheaper, for instance, than paying a late fee for missing a monthly rent payment, he said. Sometimes, he says, all people need is a little help to get back on their feet before they ‘graduate’ from using a service like Amscot. MacKechnie says he sympathizes with his hard-luck customers.” [St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/03]
  • Center For Responsible Lending reported MacKechnie’s payday lending business charged APR of 286%, which he defended. “Consumer groups like the Center for Responsible Lending criticize the cash-advance loans offered by Amscot and other chains, noting their $11 fee on a $100 loan for 30 days is equal to an annual interest rate of 286 percent. They recommend borrowers use credit cards instead. However, MacKechnie countered that many cash-strapped consumers lack credit cards and have no way of meeting financial emergencies.” [News-Journal, 10/26/07]

Yet He Claims to Have Never Taken Advantage of a Customer… Ever

  • MacKechnie: “We have never taken advantage of a customer and never will.” “‘There is a demand and need for these services. We have never taken advantage of a consumer and never will,’ CEO MacKechnie said.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/09]

Called Critics of Payday Lending “Elitist”

  • MacKechnie claimed it was “elitist” to criticize payday lenders. “City officials on Wednesday called off a controversial deal that allowed Amscot Financial to accept its utility payments, just days before the City Council was expected to publicly denounce the company’s check cashing and payday advance services. At least six of the city’s eight council members had expressed reservations about Amscot’s business dealings and its service fees. Payday loans, which are essentially advances on a worker’s salary, can carry annual percentage rates of about 300 percent. ‘A city ought to be doing everything we can to bring people into the financial mainstream and this kind of very high interest lending is the opposite of that,’ said Council member Karl Nurse. ‘It’s like quicksand.’…Founder Ian MacKechnie said the criticism of Amscot and its clients is insulting. ‘I see it as elitist,’ he said earlier this week. ‘They are talking down to people who they don’t know. We think what’s most important is that people have choices.’” [St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/08]

Opposed Federal Oversight of Payday Lending Industry

  • MacKechnie opposed federal regulation of payday lenders: “We’re not Wall Street.” “Nearly a decade after a major regulatory overhaul in Florida, payday lenders appear as common on Central Florida street corners as McDonald’s. The industry contends it’s now so tightly regulated here that it hands out small loans with triple-digit annual percentage rates as harmlessly as the fast-food joint sells burgers and fries. Florida’s protections for consumers are stricter than many states but not as stringent as others that ban payday loans outright or cap APR’s at 38 percent or below. In Florida, the APR on a $$500 loan, the maximum, is about 266 percent. And the Internet remains a harbor for payday lenders who prey on consumers with the most abusive tactics. This national patchwork has Congress trying to sweep the industry into its Wall Street reform package, and the issue is expected to come up for debate this week as members of the House and Senate meet to work out their differences on the legislation. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by the industry, which has fiercely lobbied to be excluded from the reform package. ‘We’re not Wall Street,’ said Ian A. MacKechnie, Amscot Corp. executive vice president and son of the company’s founder by the same name. ‘We didn’t cause the financial crisis. We’re part of Main Street.’ Tampa-based Amscot is one of the companies that has flourished in Florida since payday lending laws were overhauled in 2001, largely the result of a series of industry critical editorials in the Sentinel. It has 174 stores in 15 counties. At the beginning of 2004 there were no Amscot stores in Central Florida; today there are 70 with 32 in Orange County alone.” [Orlando Sentinel, 6/21/10]

MacKechnie Has Made a Lot of Money from the Payday Lending Industry – He Has Been Ranked One of the Richest Men in Scotland for Years

    • 2004: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $87 million. [Glasgow Evening News, 4/17/04]
    • 2005: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $136 million. [London Sunday Times, 4/3/05]
    • 2006: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $120 million. [London Sunday Times, 4/23/06]
    • 2007: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $138 million. [London Sunday Times, 4/29/07]
Miami

MacKechnie owns this 2,508 square foot $6 million beachfront penthouse in Miami Beach, Florida

  • 2008: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $149 million. [London Sunday Times, 4/27/08]
  • 2009: MacKechnie was ranked among the top 50 richest in Scotland, worth $141 million. [London Sunday Times, 4/26/09]
  • 2012: MacKechnie and family was worth $237 million. [The Scotsman, 8/15/12]

Which has Allowed Him to Buy Multi-Million Dollar Water Front Properties in Florida

  • MacKechnie owns $2.8 million home in Tampa. According to Zillow, it’s worth an estimated $2,878,776.
  • MacKechnie owns a $6 million penthouse condo in Miami Beach. It includes 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 2,500 square feet. According to Zillow, it’s worth an estimated $6 million.

And to Contribute Nearly $330,000 to the Campaigns of Members of Congress and Payday Lending Industry PACs Over the Past Few Years [OpenSecrets.org search, 8/27/14]

  • 11/17/2009 – $500 – Ted Deutch For Congress Committee
  • 11/20/2009 – $1000 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 12/06/2009 – $1000 – Peters For Congress
  • 01/13/2010 – $2400 – Charlie Crist For US Senate
  • 01/13/2010 – $2400 – Charlie Crist For US Senate
  • 02/26/2010 – $1250 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
  • 03/01/2010 – $500 – New Democrat Coalition PAC
  • 03/03/2010 – $1000 – Hastings For Congress
  • 03/05/2010 – $1000 – Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • 03/09/2010 – $2500 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
  • 03/11/2010 – $500 – Ted Deutch For Congress Committee
  • 03/15/2010 – $500 – Kendrick Meek For Florida Inc.
  • 03/18/2010 – $500 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 03/18/2010 – $1250 – Klein For Congress
  • 03/22/2010 – $500 – Vern Buchanan For Congress
  • 03/29/2010 – $1000 – Congressman Bill Young Campaign Committee
  • 03/31/2010 – $2400 – Kosmas For Congress
  • 04/25/2010 – $1000 – Castor For Congress
  • 05/21/2010 – $1000 – Friends Of Dennis Ross
  • 05/27/2010 – $500 – Kendrick Meek For Florida Inc.
  • 06/08/2010 – $3500 – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • 06/24/2010 – $500 – Kendrick Meek For Florida Inc.
  • 06/29/2010 – $500 – Childers For Congress
  • 06/29/2010 – $500 – Friends Of Dan Maffei
  • 06/29/2010 – $500 – Peters For Congress
  • 07/07/2010 – $1250 – Boyd For Congress
  • 07/08/2010 – $1000 – Cantor For Congress
  • 07/28/2010 – $2400 – Committee To Elect Alan Grayson
  • 07/30/2010 – $2000 – Defend America PAC
  • 07/31/2010 – $900 – Kendrick Meek For Florida Inc.
  • 08/16/2010 – $2000 – Debbie Wasserman Schultz For Congress
  • 09/16/2010 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 09/16/2010 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 09/18/2010 – $1000 – Castor For Congress
  • 09/20/2010 – $1500 – Boyd For Congress
  • 09/27/2010 – $1000 – Kosmas For Congress
  • 09/30/2010 – $1000 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 09/30/2010 – $2400 – Kendrick Meek For Florida Inc.
  • 10/04/2010 – $2000 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 10/11/2010 – $2400 – Friends Of Dennis Ross
  • 10/15/2010 – $400 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 10/15/2010 – $1200 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 10/19/2010 – $500 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 10/22/2010 – $1000 – AmeriPAC: The Fund For A Greater America
  • 10/22/2010 – $1000 – AmeriPAC: The Fund For A Greater America
  • 10/22/2010 – $1000 – AmeriPAC: The Fund For A Greater America
  • 10/24/2010 – $2000 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 10/26/2010 – $1000 – Kurt Schrader For Congress
  • 10/27/2010 – $1000 – Minnick For Congress
  • 10/29/2010 – $1000 – Citizens To Elect Rick Larsen
  • 11/04/2010 – $3000 – Every Republican Is Crucial (ERICPAC)
  • 02/23/2011 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 02/23/2011 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 03/01/2011 – $2400 – Kevin McCarthy For Congress
  • 03/01/2011 – $1350 – Kevin McCarthy For Congress
  • 03/21/2011 – $2500 – McHenry For Congress
  • 03/21/2011 – $2500 – McHenry For Congress
  • 03/30/2011 – $1000 – Castor For Congress
  • 03/30/2011 – $500 – Castor For Congress
  • 03/30/2011 – $1000 – Castor For Congress
  • 03/30/2011 – $500 – Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • 03/30/2011 – $1000 – Hastings For Congress
  • 03/31/2011 – $1000 – Scott Garrett For Congress
  • 04/04/2011 – $1000 – Marco Rubio For US Senate
  • 04/04/2011 – $1000 – Marco Rubio For US Senate
  • 04/05/2011 – $500 – Marco Rubio For US Senate
  • 04/18/2011 – $2000 – Defend America PAC
  • 06/30/2011 – $1000 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 06/30/2011 – $1500 – National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • 06/30/2011 – $500 – Peters For Congress
  • 08/09/2011 – $1000 – Friends For Gregory Meeks
  • 09/07/2011 – $500 – John Carney For Congress
  • 09/07/2011 – $1000 – Roskam For Congress Committee
  • 09/10/2011 – $2400 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 09/10/2011 – $2400 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 09/26/2011 – $2000 – Menendez For Senate
  • 09/30/2011 – $2000 – Castor For Congress
  • 09/30/2011 – $1000 – Castor For Congress
  • 10/17/2011 – $2500 – Ted Deutch For Congress Committee
  • 10/17/2011 – $1500 – Ted Deutch For Congress Committee
  • 10/28/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 10/28/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 11/09/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Dennis Ross
  • 11/09/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Dennis Ross
  • 11/10/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 11/10/2011 – $2500 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 12/23/2011 – $1000 – ActBlue
  • 12/23/2011 – $500 – Citizens To Elect Rick Larsen
  • 12/23/2011 – $500 – Connolly For Congress
  • 12/23/2011 – $1000 – Friends Of John Barrow
  • 12/23/2011 – $500 – Himes For Congress
  • 12/23/2011 – $500 – John Carney For Congress
  • 12/23/2011 – $1000 – Kurt Schrader For Congress
  • 12/23/2011 – $2500 – New Democrat Coalition PAC
  • 12/23/2011 – $1000 – Peters For Congress
  • 01/11/2012 – $2500 – Daniel Webster For Congress
  • 01/11/2012 – $2500 – Daniel Webster For Congress
  • 01/30/2012 – $2500 – Bluegrass Committee
  • 01/30/2012 – $2500 – Bluegrass Committee
  • 01/30/2012 – $4000 – Financial Service Centers Of America Inc. PAC
  • 01/31/2012 – $2500 – McConnell Senate Committee ’14
  • 01/31/2012 – $2500 – McConnell Senate Committee ’14
  • 02/16/2012 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 02/16/2012 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 03/02/2012 – $1000 – Defend America PAC
  • 03/31/2012 – $1000 – Citizens For Josh Mandel Inc.
  • 04/19/2012 – $500 – Citizens For Altmire
  • 04/25/2012 – $1000 – Sandy Adams For Congress
  • 05/11/2012 – $1000 – Congressman Bill Young Campaign Committee
  • 06/22/2012 – $500 – Gillibrand For Senate
  • 06/22/2012 – $2500 – Perlmutter For Congress
  • 06/22/2012 – $2500 – Perlmutter For Congress
  • 07/19/2012 – $1250 – ActBlue
  • 07/19/2012 – $1250 – ActBlue
  • 07/19/2012 – $500 – Denny Heck For Congress
  • 07/19/2012 – $500 – Denny Heck For Congress
  • 07/19/2012 – $750 – Friends Of Dan Maffei
  • 07/19/2012 – $750 – Friends Of Dan Maffei
  • 07/19/2012 – $1000 – Mario Diaz-Balart For Congress
  • 07/19/2012 – $1000 – Mario Diaz-Balart For Congress
  • 07/19/2012 – $1250 – New Democrat Coalition PAC
  • 07/19/2012 – $1250 – New Democrat Coalition PAC
  • 07/20/2012 – $1250 – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • 07/20/2012 – $1250 – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • 07/25/2012 – $500 – Hastings For Congress
  • 07/26/2012 – $1250 – Blue Dog Political Action Committee
  • 09/05/2012 – $5000 – Republican Operation To Secure And Keep A Majority PAC
  • 09/05/2012 – $2500 – Roskam For Congress Committee
  • 09/25/2012 – $2500 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
  • 09/27/2012 – $2500 – Lois Frankel For Congress
  • 11/02/2012 – $500 – ActBlue
  • 11/02/2012 – $500 – ActBlue
  • 11/02/2012 – $500 – Committee To Elect Alan Grayson
  • 11/02/2012 – $500 – Congressman Bill Young Campaign Committee
  • 11/02/2012 – $1000 – Daniel Webster For Congress
  • 11/02/2012 – $500 – Daniel Webster For Congress
  • 11/02/2012 – $1500 – Debbie Wasserman Schultz For Congress
  • 11/02/2012 – $1500 – Lois Frankel For Congress
  • 02/06/2013 – $1500 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 03/19/2013 – $500 – Donnelly For Indiana
  • 03/19/2013 – $500 – Friends Of John Barrow
  • 03/27/2013 – $2500 – Hastings For Congress
  • 04/02/2013 – $1000 – ActBlue
  • 04/26/2013 – $500 – Ellison For Congress
  • 05/17/2013 – $2400 – Shaheen For Senate
  • 05/17/2013 – $2500 – Shaheen For Senate
  • 06/26/2013 – $2500 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 06/26/2013 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 06/28/2013 – $1250 – Castor For Congress
  • 06/28/2013 – $1250 – Castor For Congress
  • 06/28/2013 – $500 – Delbene For Congress
  • 06/28/2013 – $500 – Hastings For Congress
  • 06/28/2013 – $500 – Peters For Michigan
  • 06/28/2013 – $500 – Peters For Michigan
  • 06/28/2013 – $500 – Scott Peters For Congress
  • 08/19/2013 – $2500 – Friends Of Patrick Murphy
  • 08/19/2013 – $2500 – Friends Of Patrick Murphy
  • 08/26/2013 – $2500 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 08/26/2013 – $2500 – Friends Of Bill Posey
  • 09/08/2013 – $2500 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 09/10/2013 – $2500 – Bilirakis For Congress
  • 09/18/2013 – $2500 – John Carney For Congress
  • 09/22/2013 – $2500 – Joe Garcia For Congress
  • 09/22/2013 – $2500 – Joe Garcia For Congress
  • 09/23/2013 – $2000 – Stivers For Congress
  • 09/26/2013 – $2500 – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • 09/27/2013 – $2500 – Ron Desantis For Congress
  • 10/21/2013 – $600 – Stivers For Congress
  • 10/21/2013 – $1900 – Stivers For Congress
  • 10/23/2013 – $1000 – Southerland For Congress
  • 10/23/2013 – $1000 – Southerland For Congress
  • 10/25/2013 – $2500 – Scott Garrett For Congress
  • 11/27/2013 – $2500 – Friends Of Mark Warner
  • 12/06/2013 – $2500 – Alex Sink For Congress
  • 12/06/2013 – $2600 – Alex Sink For Congress
  • 12/06/2013 – $2400 – Alex Sink For Congress
  • 12/12/2013 – $2500 – Friends For Gregory Meeks
  • 12/23/2013 – $1000 – Friends Of Corrine Brown
  • 12/23/2013 – $1000 – Friends Of Corrine Brown
  • 12/23/2013 – $2000 – Hastings For Congress
  • 12/23/2013 – $2500 – Hastings For Congress
  • 12/23/2013 – $2500 – Hastings For Congress
  • 12/23/2013 – $2500 – New Democrat Coalition PAC
  • 12/26/2013 – $2500 – Justice And Action For The Commonwealth Of Kentucky PAC
  • 02/10/2014 – $2500 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 02/12/2014 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
  • 02/25/2014 – $1000 – Tim Scott For Senate
  • 03/07/2014 – $5000 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
  • 03/07/2014 – $5000 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
  • 03/07/2014 – $2500 – Lois Frankel For Congress
  • 03/14/2014 – $2000 – Texans For Senator John Cornyn Inc.
  • 03/19/2014 – $1900 – McConnell Senate Committee ’14
  • 03/26/2014 – $1250 – Friends Of Rich Nugent
  • 06/13/2014 – $1500 – Denny Heck For Congress
  • Total – $329,000

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