Three California executives and their two companies were charged by three different agencies Thursday with operating an illegal, usurious lending business that preyed on retirees by promising them advances on their pensions.
The suit, brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the New York State attorney general and the New York Department of Financial Services, claims that three executives, Edwin Lichtig, Rex Hofelter, Steven Covey, and their Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Pension Funding and Pension Income companies advertised on the web from 2011 to 2014 that they could provide pension advances at no fees to be paid back over eight years.
Instead, said the complaint, these “advances” were actually loans charging 28.56 percent annual interest. The criminal usury cap in New York state is 25 percent.
The three executives have faced similar allegations by regulators and consumers before.
In March, the California Department of Business Oversight issued an order against the two companies and Hofelter and Lichtig to stop them from engaging in finance lending and acting as brokers without a license.
Lichtig was charged in 2008 by the U.S. Justice Department with operating a shady insurance operation selling bogus tax schemes to IRA holders.
During 2005, Covey was the subject of a class action suit by military veterans accusing him of doing essentially the same thing: lending money to retirees and pretending the loans were pension advances.
Thursday’s action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division.
The suit seeks injunctions and unspecified money penalties.