Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Bank Of America Mortgage Fraud: Feds Sue
For Over $1 Billion
Alleging Multi-Year Scheme
Bank Of America Mortgage Fraud: Feds Sue For Over $1 Billion Alleging Multi-Year Scheme
Posted: 10/24/2012 12:20 pm EDT Updated: 10/24/2012 2:07 pm EDT
Federal prosecutors sued Bank of America for $1 billion on Wednesday, alleging that the bank's former Countrywide unit concocted a mortgage scheme it called the "Hustle" in order to sell thousands of fraudulent and otherwise defective mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"In order to increase the speed at which it originated and sold loans ... Countrywide eliminated every single checkpoint on loan quality and compensated its employees solely based on the volume of loans originated," the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal district court, alleges.
This led to "rampant instances of fraud and other serious loan defects," all while Countrywide was telling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy up mortgages for resale, that it had strengthened its lending requirements.
The mortgage giant called the scheme the "High Speed Swim Lane" or the "Hustle," for short, according to the lawsuit.
When the loans "predictably" defaulted, Fannie and Freddie, which in 2008 required a massive taxpayer bailout due in large part to the purchase of toxic mortgages, incurred more than $1 billion in losses, the lawsuit says.
The mortgage scheme continued through 2009, well after Bank of America acquired Countrywide, according to the lawsuit.
Bank of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit, which alleges violations of civil and not criminal law, comes on the heels of several other high-profile cases tied to the financial crisis that have been filed this month by federal and state law enforcement officials, who have taken fire for not aggressively pursuing those responsible for the mortgage crisis.
Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Bear Stearns, now a unit of JPMorgan Chase, accusing it of stuffing mortgage bonds with bad loans without informing investors of the risk.
A week later, the Department of Justice sued Wells Fargo, claiming the bank lied about the quality of thousands of loans it certified for a federal insurance program. Both of those cases are pending.