By Al Lewis
A DOW JONES NEWSWIRES COLUMN
Terry Smiljanich was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Tampa, Fla., in the 1970s, prosecuting loan sharks.
“Just like in the movies, guys would come down from New York to collect,” he recalls.
A deadbeat borrower in one of Smiljanich’s cases even survived the cinematic cliche:
“They went into a bar and grabbed him, took him for a little ride, and told him that if he didn’t find a way to pay them off within 24 hours they were going to break his legs.”
High-interest loans with terrifying consequences is such a lucrative business that America’s banking industry lobbied for years to make them legal.
“Bank of America doesn’t break your legs, but they will ruin your credit and they will hound you to death,” Smiljanich said. Continue reading…