WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Access Funding and two executives for steering consumers considering signing away future structured settlement payments for lump sum payments to receive “independent advice” from an attorney, Charles Smith, who was paid directly by Access Funding, and indicating to consumers that the transactions required very little scrutiny. The parties filed a proposed order which, if entered by the court, would require Access Funding and the executives, Lee Jundanian and Raffi Boghosian, to pay $40,000 in disgorgement and a $10,000 civil penalty, and it would permanently ban them from referring consumers to certain individuals and for-profit entities offering advice on structured settlement transactions.
Access Funding, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, offered lump sum payments to consumers with structured settlements. Access Funding sought “lead-paint virgins,” which is how it referred to prime targets for transferring their structured settlements stemming from lead-paint poisoning. Access Funding targeted these consumers because they were generally in desperate need of immediate cash and were cognitively impaired. Between 2013 and 2015, Access Funding’s unlawful actions enabled them to profit off about 200 individuals with structured settlements – many of whom suffered the effects of lead-paint poisoning.
In November 2016, the CFPB sued Access Funding, its executive leadership, and outside attorney Smith. The CFPB alleges that Access Funding was aware that the individuals from whom they purchased structured settlement payments were financially unsophisticated and in need of the funds the company could supply. The CFPB also alleges that the companies and their principals steered consumers to receive “independent advice” from Smith, who was paid directly by Access Funding and indicated to consumers that the transactions required very little scrutiny. The CFPB alleges that Smith’s conduct was unfair, abusive, and deceptive in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and that Access Funding and its leadership unlawfully aided Smith’s illegal conduct and engaged in abusive conduct. On November 18, 2021, the court entered a stipulated judgment and order against Smith.
Today’s action will make Access Funding’s victims eligible to gain financial relief through the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that implements and enforces Federal consumer financial law and ensures that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.