Mark Corbett was accused of using Internet websites to scam veterans for seven years from 2011 to 2018, making cash-advance loan agreements with his victims. In exchange for the loan, Corbett swiped each vet’s monthly pension check or disability payments in those cases where it was applicable. Each deal was set to last for at least five years but no longer than ten.
The price Corbett paid when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau determined his criminal actions were duplicitous and caused “substantial injury” to the victims? A single American dollar. According to the bureau, Corbett’s financial statements guaranteed he was unable to pay more, even after scamming veterans for years.
In addition, he cooperated. Apparently that’s enough to avoid punishment. This agreement was made after Corbett agreed to identify all of the veterans from whom he stole.
Corbett is the target of another federal lawsuit from three of his victims, all of whom claim he managed to siphon millions of dollars for the duration of the scheme. Whether or not the bureau’s determination and subsequent settlement will affect this lawsuit is not yet clear.
Corbett managed to sidestep a Federal law guaranteeing a veteran’s pension remains his or her own. The law prohibits such transfers from taking place, but Corbett’s agreement with veterans stated that it “is not a loan, you are selling a product for a set price.” He failed to disclose the hidden interest rates as part of that same agreement. This means Corbett effectively violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.
As part of the settlement, Corbett was slammed with a lifelong ban from any type of brokering. He will no longer be legally allowed to work on behalf of veterans and third parties.
Some are blaming the settlement’s overwhelming leniency on the Trump Administration because this is not the first time the CFPB has slashed the financial penalty because someone is unable to pay–at least in the current White House. Others have pointed out that everyday Americans can’t get out of speeding tickets just because they cannot afford to pay. When someone does something wrong, there’s a price to pay whether it’s jail time or a steep fine. Some are asking how Corbett managed to avoid the former.
The paperwork for Corbett’s one dollar fine reads like satire, and how could it not? He was given ten days to pay up.