Federal prosecutors slapped Bank of America with a $1 billion-plus civil mortgage fraud lawsuit Wednesday, accusing the bank of engineering a scheme that defrauded federally-backed mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the national financial crisis.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York accuses the bank of using a loan-origination program called the "Hustle" to process mortgage applications at high speed with little checking for fraud, misstatements or other wrongdoing.
Prosecutors charge the program, allegedly in operation from at least 2007 through 2009, was begun under Countrywide Financial and Countrywide Home Loans, and was continued by Bank of America when it bought Countrywide's operations in a controversial July 2008 acquisition.
The result, the suit alleges, was defective mortgage loans that defaulted after Bank of America sold them to Fannie and Freddie, causing more than $1 billion in losses and thousands of foreclosures, according to the 46-page complaint filed in Manhattan.
"Countrywide and Bank of America made disastrously bad loans and stuck taxpayers with the bill," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the lawsuit with Steve Linick, inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and Christy Romero, special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Read more at USA Today