MasterCard Whacked With $19 Billion Dollar Lawsuit For 16-Year-Fraud

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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MasterCard got whacked with a $19 billion dollar lawsuit over allegations of a 16-year scam where it charged excessive fees to 46 million British customers.

MasterCard allegedly charged illegally high fees to stores when consumers swiped their cards, and these fees were then transferred to consumers through higher prices, according to Reuters.

These purported instances of fraud by the credit card company took place between 1992 and 2008, according to 600 pages of documents obtained by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The law firm Quinn Emanuel, the firm that filed suit at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, said on its website that “MasterCard lost this battle at every level and showed complete disregard for its cardholders and consumers at large, focusing instead on generating unlawful profits.”

MasterCard refuses to admit any wrongdoing in the case, releasing a statement saying, “we continue to firmly disagree with the basis of this claim and we intend to oppose it vigorously.”

The company also put out a blog post where they defend themselves, saying that their fee practices actually benefited consumers. MasterCard noted that lawyers have attempted to carry out similar lawsuits in the United States, but that “virtually all of those cases were thrown out by the courts.”

The credit institution says the fact that these cases were thrown out should come as no surprise, because “consumers derive enormous benefits from our payment technology, both here in the UK, and across the globe.”

Walter Merricks, former chief of U.K. financial services ombudsman, says there is no “basis upon which MasterCard can contend that its card fees were not unlawful,” the Guardian reports.

This isn’t the first time MasterCard was investigated surrounding their charging practices. The European Union’s antitrust regulator found MasterCard’s fees to be excessive in 2014.

British customers affected by the the fraudulent fees who are no longer living inside the U.K. can opt-in to the collective action claim.

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