CFPB Enters Consent Order with Loan Officer Over Alleged Mortgage Fee-Shifting Scheme

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On May 26, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it had entered into a consent order with a former loan officer of a national bank, whom the CFPB alleges increased the number of loans he sold by creating a mortgage fee-shifting scheme.  The consent order alleged that the loan officer had an arrangement with an escrow company under which the escrow company would reduce its fees for certain customers by shifting portions of those fees to other customers. This allegedly permitted the loan officer to increase the number of loans he sold (and, hence, his commissions) by offering “no-cost” loans to price-conscious customers.  In exchange for manipulating prices, the consent order alleges that the loan officer referred all of his escrow business to the escrow company. The CFPB charged that this conduct violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. § 2607(a); 12 CFR § 1024.14(b), and the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA), 12 U.S.C. § 5536(a)(1)(A), because the loan officer allegedly received a fee, kickback, or thing of value in exchange for referring a settlement service to the escrow company.  The consent order requires the loan officer to pay an $85,000 civil money penalty.

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