A payday lender has been fined more than half a million pounds and had its licence revoked after falling victim to fraudsters who successfully impersonated thousands of people to take out loans.
MCO Capital, which was using the online names Help Loan and Balance Loan when it was duped, failed to carry out adequate identity checks and lacked the skills and knowledge needed to run a consumer credit business, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found.
Its failures made it vulnerable to fraudsters, who used the personal details of more than 7,000 people to successfully apply for loans worth millions.
MCO Capital then caused "unnecessary distress and inconvenience" by writing to people to collect the debts, even though it knew they might not have borrowed the money, the OFT said.
The watchdog has imposed a £544,505 financial penalty on MCO Capital and revoked its consumer credit licence, which it needs in order to trade.
The lender - which now trades online under the names Speed Credit, Paycheck Credit and Pop Credit - has 28 days to consider whether to lodge an appeal.