A man accused of issuing cash-advance loans with excessively high-interest rates to veterans while disguising the transactions as interest-free sales was ordered to pay a settlement after it was determined he “caused substantial injury” by swindling veterans out of their disability and retirement pay.
Serving as a financial agent for several lending companies from 2011 to 2018, Mark Corbett would reportedly offer to send lump sum payments to veterans — some payments were in the tens of thousands of dollars — in exchange for receiving all or part of the veteran’s monthly pension or disability payments for a period of five to 10 years, according to a Jan. 23 consent order.
And what did the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau deem to be a necessary settlement for these fraudulent transactions? One dollar, which he was comically ordered to pay within 10 days via wire transfer or else suffer the accrual of interest on said dollar.
The minuscule sum “accounts for Corbett’s inability to pay more based on sworn financial statements that he provided to the Bureau and Corbett’s ongoing cooperation with the Bureau’s investigation,” the order said.
Bilk veterans out of disability and retirement pay for seven years? Your settlement, sir, is a McChicken sandwich.
The bureau concluded in its investigation that Corbett never accurately conveyed the exorbitant interest costs the veterans would incur after signing the contract. Instead, he would reportedly frame the exchange as a sale.
“Please keep in mind that this is not a loan,” the new seller information packet Corbett would send veterans read. “You are selling a product for a set price.”
Additionally, Corbett ignored a federal law that prevents pension payments from being reassigned to another party, one that would have voided contracts Corbett put in place requiring veterans to go into their VA or DFAS online portal and rewire their direct deposits into accounts controlled by the companies he worked for.
Multiple veterans reportedly complained to Corbett that such transactions were illegal, but he would repeatedly reassure them no law was being broken, the report said.
The names of Corbett’s employers were withheld from the report.
Veterans were also required, as part of the contract, to purchase life insurance policies to ensure any outstanding amount would still be paid should that veteran die before full financial obligations were fulfilled.
As part of the ruling, Corbett has unsurprisingly been banned from “brokering, offering, or arranging agreements between veterans and third parties under which the veteran purports to sell a future right to an income stream from the veteran’s pension,” the order said.
An entirely separate 2017 federal lawsuit filed by three veterans, meanwhile, names Corbett as one who swindled them out of millions of dollars of retirement and disability pay, Stars and Stripes reported.
It remains unclear what effect this ruling will have on that case.
The bureau partnered with the Office of Arkansas Attorney General and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs for its investigation.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.