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After Falling Prey To Loan ‘Scammers,’ 3 Pissed-Off Vets Are Fighting Back
Here’s a brain teaser for all you mathletes out there:
Ricky is an Army vet whose 30% disability rating from the VA brings in more than $500 a month. A finance company makes him an offer: If he forks over his check for the next decade, they’ll send him a one-time lump payment of $20,000 — more than enough to purchase a set of 20-inch rims for the ol’ Charger.
Question: Should he go full-bling with the bronze gold, or play it Batman style with an elegant matte black?
Okay, pencils down.
We hope it goes without saying that Ricky is making a big mistake. In a case now underway in a U.S. district court in South Carolina, three veterans who signed similar arrangements are suing their loan agents, claiming that they were charged unfair interest rates, that the contracts did not disclose the rates as required, and that the deals violate federal law.
“We have reason to believe there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of veterans who have been fleeced by the defendants through similar schemes over the past six-plus years,” Adelaide Anderson, a staff attorney with Public Counsel, part of the plaintiffs’ legal team, said when the suit was filed last year. Indeed, state investigators in Arkansas found that during an 18-month period beginning in 2011, one company made more than 300 such deals with veterans, for a total of more than $34 million.
As a no-longer-active website touting the scheme put it: “Nowhere else can you leverage your military… pension by exchanging a future trickle of income for cold, hard cash in your hands today.”
Jason Lyons, a former Marine Corps staff sergeant who’s now a recruiter for the Office of Naval Intelligence, apparently liked the sound of that. Having been injured during his service and granted a 90% disability rating, Lyons was doing okay until 2013, when he went through a divorce and took a number of other tough financial hits. He found his way to buyyourpension.com, one of the websites operated by the plaintiffs, and made a deal.
Eventually, he realized he’d been duped. For instance, Lyons alleges the company never disclosed their exorbitant fees, which meant he was paying an effective interest rate of nearly 43%. He also thought the helpful financial savior who set up the deal, defendant Mark Corbett, was the cocksure, scruffy-yet-trustworthy-looking dude featured on the website. Instead, the complaint alleges, Corbett used a stock photo. It’s all over the internet.
So what, you ask? What’s the big deal? After all, we are all mature grown ups who have the God-given right to throw our hard-earned money away if we want to.
Only thing is, there’s a federal law (38 U.S. Code § 5301) that essentially says we can’t. To wit: “Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary [of Veterans Affairs] shall not be assignable… “
In plain language, no. Do not even try to do this. Meanwhile, if you have fallen for one of these scams, you might well be able to sue to recover your money and additional damages. Then, sure, go get those rims.
As for Lyons’ suit, a federal judge recently rejected a motion for dismissal. The case is now expected to go to trial sometime next year.
Ever tempted by one of these deals? Tell us your story in the comments.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.