You don’t mess with Comfort Friddle.
That’s one of the lessons learned by Home America Mortgage (HAM) in the wake of recent Department of Justice action against the lender. The firm, along with its parent company, Taylor, Bean and Whitaker, agreed to pay the U.S. government $320 million to settle allegations of fraud. The woman who blew the whistle on the company, former loan processor Comfort Friddle, has now spoken out about what went on at the mortgage company.
Friddle started at HAM in 2004 and immediately found an workplace that she described as a “teenager-kinda-party-atmosphere, according to Al Jazeera America. But, more importantly, Friddle saw that the company was engaged in unethical practices. “They ignored guidelines,” Friddle told Al Jazeera reporters. “I had even seen a couple of the girls making up documentation at a copier. And whiting out stuff and making copies and putting it in the file, which is insane.”
As a result of this type of behavior, the company closed hundreds of bad loans per month, providing enormous profits to the company’s CEO. After two years of witnessing this behavior, Friddle decided to speak out and blow the whistle on HAM. Friddle alleged that HAM and its parent company "knowingly engaged in a pattern of fraudulent activity and business practices, including falsifying and manufacturing loan documents, disregarding HUD regulations, and ignoring the absence of necessary documentation to obtain financing for FHA-insured loans."
Friddle filed a qui tam suit in 2007, but action against HAM was slow to occur. In the intervening years, HAM went under. Since HAM is now in bankruptcy, it is unlikely that the company will be able to pay the entire amount of $320 million.
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