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Albuquerque company preyed on veterans, stole pensions through investment scheme

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Those who fought for the freedom of others deserve better treatment then they received at the hands of a company that preyed on them for their pensions and disability funds.

Financial analysts in New Mexico recently uncovered an illegal scam by two companies that cheated veterans out of their pensions and disability funds. Veterans had money stolen from them through an investment scheme.

The analysts found that Equity Advisors in Albuquerque, N.M., and another company, the Voyager Financial Group in Little Rock, Arkansas stand accused of specifically targeting veterans to cheat them out of their pensions and disability payments.

These companies made money through the sale of securities in the form of contracts for the right to receive veteran's structured payments, awards, pensions and/or disability incomes. These incomes are paid by the Veterans Administration to Veterans and Military Retirees across the country.

KAOT7 out of Albuquerque, reported the companies convinced vets "to sell their pension payments for thousands less than they’re worth." One case involved a veteran receiving $30,000 for his pension that was worth roughly $16-18,000 more than he was paid.

The companies took advantage of the veterans, who might have been in a tight spot and needed a lump sum immediately. These veterans were convinced by the companies to sell their pensions/disability payments even though those payments were worth more to the vets in the future.

The companies would take their cut and then sell the pensions/disability payments to investors for more money then what was paid for them. According to KAOT, the scheme was "made to look like a legitimate transaction."

A cease and desist order has been issued against Equity Advisors by the state of New Mexico. The state has also levied a $40,000 fine and ordered the company to return the money to the veterans.

The Albuquerque Journal said in their report, "The state Regulation and Licensing Department’s Securities Division said Tuesday it has ordered two investment companies involved in the illegal purchase of monthly pensions and disability payments from veterans and resale of them as investments to halt the scheme immediately."

According to a post by the Stanford Law School about the Voyager Financial Group, who entered into the contracts with the veterans to purchase their pensions/disability funds, broke the law. They said it is an illegal action under 38 USC 21 § 5301, Nonassignability and Exempt Status of Benefits.

In order to protect veterans the House of Representatives passed a law, the Veterans Pension Protection Act, in October to safeguard veterans from scams and ripoffs. The bill was introduced in April, 2013 and went to committee in June and was said to have passed the house in Oct.

According to a report from Moalla Pioneer, "The law was passed to prevent what is known as "pension-poaching." These include the following:

  • Unprincipled financial firms convince veterans to divert their assets into trusts or annuities by promising to help veterans qualify for VA pension benefits.
  • Firms profit from those trusts or annuities, though they are often poor investments that leave veterans without access to adequate financial resources.
  • Firms further profit by charging veterans exorbitant fees and selling them additional unnecessary and costly services.

Hopefully this law will prevent companies in the future from even thinking about scamming our veterans. To watch a video about scam artists who target veterans you can click here.

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