Media Center

Body: 
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Settlement with Joseph Rensin, Former CEO of BlueHippo Funding, LLC, for Violations of Wisconsin's Consumer Protection Laws

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that he reached a settlement in Dane County Circuit Court worth approximately $660,000 with Joseph Rensin, former Chief Executive Officer of the now-defunct companies, BlueHippo Funding, LLC, and BlueHippo Capital, LLC. The settlement is the result of multi-year litigation with Mr. Rensin and his former companies for violations of Wisconsin's consumer protection law; specifically, violations relating to deceptive advertising and consumer credit.

 

As alleged in the State's complaint, the companies targeted low-income consumers with poor credit histories, offering to finance computers and other electronic merchandise. The companies allegedly deceived consumers into believing they were purchasing computers on credit, and that after making a few modest payments, the consumers would receive their ordered computers promptly, paying down the balance in the coming months. In fact, hundreds of consumers did not receive the merchandise within the represented time frame, and many never received the ordered merchandise at all. According to the State, the companies also falsely led consumers to believe that they were entitled to free items with their purchase; yet many consumers never received those promised items.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Rensin was required to pay the State $160,000 to be used to provide restitution to injured consumers and to defray the State's costs of bringing its enforcement action. In addition, Mr. Rensin has agreed to cancel more than $500,000 in outstanding debt he asserted Wisconsin consumers owed to the companies. Finally, Mr. Rensin has agreed not to conduct a similar business in the State of Wisconsin for three years. The corporate defendants are not part of this settlement, and the State continues to pursue a judgment against them.

 

“This settlement will provide some relief to Wisconsin residents who've been harmed, and it will send a message to others that the State will not tolerate this kind of predatory practice,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.

 

The case was investigated and referred to the Department of Justice by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Financial Institutions.

 

BlueHippo was sued by six other states and the Federal Trade Commission.

 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara Sutherlin.

 

Copies of the Stipulation and Consent Judgment are available at the following link:

 

2011 file: