Vulnerable accident victims across the nation have been exploited by a largely unregulated corner of the financial industry that each year persuades them to sell $1 billion in future legal settlement payments for an immediate, much smaller lump of cash. On average, companies that buy settlement payments keep about 60% of the money, with some sellers receiving pennies on the dollar. Judges, who are required to determine whether the deals are in the sellers’ best interest, rubber-stamp the purchases at hearings often lasting just a few minutes. In Minnesota, judges approved 90 percent of the purchases, even when the sellers had agreed to the deals while confined in a mental institution or shortly after having been released from one. In Minnesota, one in eight purchases approved by local judges involved a seller with documented mental health problems. The settlement purchasing industry depends on repeat sellers for much of their business, and they hound accident victims with daily phone calls, emails and text messages. Our reporting showed that the terms of subsequent sales are often even more lopsided in favor of the companies buying those payments.