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The Justice Department is seeking $1 billion from Bank of America, alleging the bank committed fraud by selling defective mortgages from a program it says was known within the bank as “the Hustle.” CNNMoney.com reports those mortgages were purchased by government-backed mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, resulting in over $1 billion in losses for taxpayers and countless foreclosures, according to the complaint announced Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The suit alleges that “the Hustle” was a nickname for the bank’s “High-Speed Swim Lane,” or HSSL program, designed to streamline the mortgage origination process. But the government alleges it was “intentionally designed to process loans at high-speed and without quality checkpoints, and generated thousands of fraudulent and otherwise defective residential mortgage loans.”
The government says the program was started by mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, but continued after it was purchased by Bank of America in 2008. It ran through 2009, according to the suit.
The fraudulent conduct alleged in today’s complaint was spectacularly brazen in scope.
-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
The lawsuit alleged that Countrywide traded quantity for quality and eliminated underwriters, even from mortgage loans for which borrowers did not have to get their income verified.
Instead, loan processors simply entered data into an automated underwriting system, and if the system gave the go-ahead, “no underwriter would ever see the loan,” the lawsuit alleged.