Payday Loan scumbags prey on the elderly, illiterate, poor

Small Loans, a predatory lender owned by Money Tree, Inc, gave a $200 "payday loan" to a disabled, elderly, illiterate man and thereafter took in his benefits check for him and paid him a small "allowance" out of it, less the money they deducted as "repayment" on the loan. All told, they took thousands from the man over a period of years, bleeding him so badly that he ended up homeless, begging for power to run the machine that treated his chronic lung infection.

Mr. Bevels, who can't read, says a clerk helped him fill out papers that instructed Social Security to send Mr. Bevels's $565 monthly benefits to an account at an out-of-state bank, which transferred the money back to Small Loans or its parent, usually within a day. As is often the case, Mr. Bevels's bank earned no interest and didn't come with either ATM cards or checks.

Every month for nearly four years, Mr. Bevels, who is known around town as "Buckwheat" because of his thatch of yellow-white hair, rode his motorized mobility scooter to Small Loans to pick up his "allowance," which was sometimes as little as $180 a month, he says.