Sunday, June 17, 2018

**REVIEW** Dirty Money: Payday

The Netflix series "Dirty Money" has covered some interesting stories that make the average-to-poor person gape at the screen. The episode that floored me though was the one about Scott Tucker. Aptly titled "Payday", this one got to me because of the moral blindness of the 'bad guys'.

(if you don't have Netflix, check bottom of post for some links to info)

To sort of recap (difficult with my memory and such), Scott Tucker was the leader in the field of "payday loans" that target the down and out and hard up. I've been down and out, Lord knows, but I never got caught up in that scam. What I do know about them is that, like pawn shops and liquor stores, they are usually found in the OSOTT (other side of the track) and lower-income working neighborhoods. Matter of fact, just like some neighborhoods are marked by the lineup of a Bed, Bath & Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Burlington Coat Factory, some are marked by the lineup of a liquor store, payday loan office, and pawn shop.

Back to the show though.

Tucker and his brother were a couple of smart dudes. Driven and ambitious, they worked together to take the payday loan business out of the strip malls and onto the Internet. And business exploded. Tucker made enough money to buy himself the life of a race car driver. Apparently, this was a dream of his. He likes cars and speed but, mostly, he seemed to like the celebrity of it all.

During the film, you get to see Tucker spending a lot of time on his exercise bike. The man and his wife are both fit people. They seem to be concerned with having a certain look - even while they are being sued to pieces, having the government taking away cars and other material possessions to satisfy a gigantic settlement. The wife is nice-looking but in that tight, managed way that doesn't seem to speak of just having good genes. I thought it was pretty weird that she walked around the house in a jacket with a fur-lined collar. She was, even at such a dire and trying time, worried about presenting a certain image to the cameras. Completely vain and silly.

I always have a hard time understanding greed and selfishness, but the part that made me saddest was how oblivious the Tuckers seemed to be. It's like there are just black holes where their hearts are supposed to be. I wanted to feel a little bit bad for these people and I just could not, God forgive me.

When Tucker got busted for shady business practices - basically all kinds of lying and covering up to fleece customers - he actually tried to play the victim himself. The worst part of the film for me was when I learned that his brother actually committed suicide when all the cards started falling in on the scheme. I began to feel bad for Tucker and his family until he did this whole fake-crying thing for the cameras. After about 3 minutes of trying very hard to look as if he was wiping away tears, he managed to squeeze out a couple, but...

you will love his answer...

It was sad that his brother took his life, but that didn't seem to make Tucker think of how he may have driven his customer to that same fate. I'm sure that some of the people he ripped off and drove even further into debt (under the guise of helping them, mind you) had thoughts of suicide. He certainly some of them into a worst position than he'd ever been in.

When all was said and done, Tucker (and his lawyer) went to jail and supposedly lost everything material. Who knows what they had set up beforehand to protect some assets. Tucker's wife sure seemed worried about that! At one point in the film she's upset that because she's married to him, her money and credit is on the line along with his. Well, boo hoo, honey. You were sure glad to claim the marital bond when it suited you.

The blindness of Tucker (and his lawyer) is just stunning. They both seem to make the argument that they shouldn't be punished for making money by dirty tactics. After all, it's just smart business.

The Netflix show did a good job of covering a complicated and layered story. There was a lot to this - the racing, the loans, involvement with an Indian tribe, and stories of some of the victims.