Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered JPay, a Florida-based company owned by the private equity firm Platinum Equity Partners, and a leading prison banker, to pay $6 million for siphoning off taxpayer-funded benefits and forcing recently incarcerated individuals to pay hidden fees, reports the Washington Post. The CFPB concluded that JPay “engaged in unfair and abusive acts” by attaching fees to cards that people were required to receive as they left prison which typically contain money that was seized when the former inmates were locked up, earnings from prison labor, or state benefits designed to help them get back on their feet.
The company also deceived consumers about the fees themselves. The CFPB settlement focused on agreements that required prisoners to set up an account with JPay before they could receive their “gate money,” referring to state benefits provided to those leaving prison. The agency concluded that fees attached to those debit cards were in some cases different from the ones disclosed on the recipients’ cardholder agreements.