LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — “Rent-a-tribe” is the moniker a Southern Nevada Legal Aid attorney gives to the practice of offering online payday loans at over 700% interest, well over state-regulated interest rates.

Peter Aldous, a legal aid staff attorney working on the Consumer Rights Project, said these loan companies purport to be affiliated with certain Native American Tribes in order to prey on desperate consumers.

“The problem comes where you’re saying I want to do something, not on tribal lands,” Aldous said. “Not I’ve opened up my payday store here and you can come here and borrow money, but doing it on the Internet, using money that wasn’t from the tribe, using computer servers that aren’t on tribal land, not employing tribal members to do any of this work, and then paying some royalty back to the tribe just for use of their name.”

Those very descriptions mirror the allegations in two federal class actions lawsuits against Henderson City Councilman Dan Shaw, who declined comment when the 8 News Now Investigators caught up with him after the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 7.

He also ignored email and telephone requests to interview him, and the city spokesman also declined to facilitate an interview. In an email. Shaw said his public relations representative would handle this matter for him.

“We arrange interviews for Councilmembers to discuss topics relating to their position with the City and not for private or personal business matters,” Henderson senior public information officer Madeleine Skains wrote in an email.

The lawsuits, originating from federal courts in Massachusetts and Nevada, allege that Green Arrow Solutions, an online lender owned by Shaw and his business partner, Greg Jones, claim affiliation with the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians in Lake County, CA, a few hours of San Francisco.

However, Aldous, the legal aid attorney, said that affiliations are generally in name only. In fact, Green Arrow Solutions is not licensed in either Nevada or California, but they do allege to be licensed by the tribe.

“It’s just the idea that the tribe itself isn’t really involved in the business,” Aldous said. “They are just allowing use of their name to a business that’s otherwise totally unrelated so that that business can claim the sovereign immunity protections of the tribe.”

The interest rates, usually up to 750%, mean that a borrower who takes a payday loan for $500 would end up paying $1,700 or more in repayment. These companies are also known for cutthroat collection tactics.

“I’ve represented lots of victims of this scheme,” Aldous said. “Just for example, people who would borrow three thousand, five thousand dollars with no ability to repay it because they’re desperate. And then they come to me, for instance, to file for bankruptcy, and we would send the bankruptcy notices to these businesses and they continue their collection activities. They continue calling and harassing my clients, Taking money out of their bank account.”

Aldous said these lenders continue to debit people’s bank accounts “again and again and again.”

“Once that money comes out, it’s not coming back,” he said.

Attorneys in the Massachusetts lawsuit against Shaw have filed paperwork that indicates that the case has settled out of court. The same may be true for the Indiana case against Shaw, but the attorneys have another week to file that paperwork.