Ameriquest Is Dead

Ameriquest, the lender the epitomized everything that was f*cked up about the subprime mortgage meltdown, is dead.

The lender stopped taking loan applications Aug 1st and its assets (including $45 billion of loans) were sold to Citigroup late last month.

Last year Ameriquest agreed to pay $325 million in a multistate class-action settlement over claims of deceptive lending practices which included failing to disclose that the loans had adjustable rates, failing to disclose the terms of the loan, refinancing homeowners into inappropriate loans, inflating home appraisals, and charging excessive fees such as prepayment penalties and loan origination fees. Ameriquest did not admit wrongdoing.

Earlier this year a number of former Ameriquest mortgage brokers spoke to NPR, detailing the steady diet of corruption that led to Ameriquest’s downfall. Commonplace tactics included “sending papers to the Art Department,” a term that was code for forging w2s in order to qualify consumers for loans they couldn’t afford.

If consumers qualified for a fixed rate mortgage, they often told that their mortgages were fixed for “as long as they wanted” when in reality, they were only fixed for 2 years. In order to fool the applicants into signing up for the pricier loan, fixed rate mortgage papers were stacked on top of variable rate ones. After tricking the customer into signing all of them, the fixed rate papers were discarded.

There is a little bit of a happy ending to the story: If you were defrauded by Ameriquest, you may have some money coming to you in the form of a class action settlement. It may be cold comfort some, but hey, its money. To see if you qualify, click here. The deadline is today.

So long, Ameriquest. You will not be missed.

Ameriquest

Comments

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  1. stubblyhead says:

    In order to fool the applicants into signing up for the pricier loan, fixed rate mortgage papers were stacked on top of variable rate ones. After tricking the customer into signing all of them, the fixed rate papers were discarded.

    I understand the importance of reading everything before you sign it, but holy carp. This is fraud, no?

  2. Caroofikus says:

    @stubblyhead: I agree, it’s fraud. I get mad enough when they try to say “everyone requires mortgage insurance.” I’d hate to face myself if I found out this happened.

  3. SybilDisobedience says:

    @stubblyhead:
    Holy carp, indeed.
    Ameriquest is the quintessential “bad lender.” I did a big term paper on mandatory financial responsibility education for junior high/high school age children, and predatory tactics like those employed by Ameriquest were prominently featured. What they’re describing here is only the tip of the iceberg – the stories at ConsumerAffairs.com will rip your heart out.

  4. bsankr says:

    This is probably the best graphic I’ve ever seen on Consumerist. And likely the most deserved.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    There’s something rotten about a cornerstone of the US legal system, incorporation. Gov’t should be able to suck every last dime from the executives, not merely watch as company fold and the executives smirk & shrug.

  6. thepounder says:

    @bsankr: Seconded… Awesomest graphic ever.

  7. drjayphd says:

    And now, for reaction, let’s go to the Land of Oz:

    [www.youtube.com]

  8. TechnoDestructo says:

    @trai_dep:

    Well, it’s nice in that it promotes risk taking by limiting that risk to what one has personally invested.

    But it would be nice if people who oversaw criminality like that would lose that limited liability. Sure they might get slapped with a few fines here and there, but it would be nice if everything they ever gained from the enterprise were forfeit.

  9. NeoteriX says:

    [sarcasm] Whhhaaaaa?! Fraud in the mortgaging meltdown? No way!!! The poor stupid idiots getting their houses foreclosed were in fact, defrauded?![/sarcasm]

    Where the hell are all the “personal responsibility” assholes now?

  10. ArtDonovansDrunkenLovechild says:

    now you know Ive been on here before saying that you people delight too much in people losing thier jobs when mortgage companies close.

    Well, not this time, these guys (and thier ilk) need to go. Eloan, aegis, ameriquest… they forced a fundemental change in the industry, by offering these “to good to be true” loans that others had to match.

    This one is the worst of the bunch.

  11. Avery says:

    Let’s see how our audience is responding to this unfortunate and tragic surprise.

    [www.maj.com]

  12. lizzybee says:

    @NeoteriX: They’ll be here soon enough. I can just see the response:

    “Well, they should have read both sets of documents, known that they were signing two separate mortgages, and forseen through the power of voodoo that the favorable mortgages were going to the shredder. Those idiots!”

  13. bohemian says:

    So many things had been put in place at one time to prevent this kind of thing that most people assumed there was some oversight. So they didn’t have their guard up.
    Well the same thing was thought about food and product safety at one time also.

    Even traditional banks with standard loans are getting totally paranoid.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    @TechnoDestructo: That’s what I had in mind when I was reading the article — true criminal responsibility.

  15. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Ding-dong, the douche is dead!

    Which old douche?

    The mortgage douche!

    Ding-dong, the stupid douche is deeeeaaaad!

    … sorry, I just had to get that out there.

  16. ptr2void says:

    So, Governor Deval Patrick of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…what’s *your* reaction to this?

  17. OKH says:

    When I bought a house (in NYC), I HAD to have a lawyer with me and the seller had to to have one with him. I understand its just a way for them to make money bu insisting that they be there, but in a small way they served a purpose – making sure all the i’s were dotted, etc. Don’t other places require that you have a lawyer with you to make sure the bank doesn’t try to dry rape you?

  18. tindog says:

    All the Texas Rangers fans are finally vindicated! When they renamed the beloved Ballpark at Arlington to “Ameriquest Field”, there was a serious backlash because no one wanted to be associated with Ameriquest. No one except for the TV announcers ever mentions the “Ameriquest” part of the name when referring to the stadium; it’s just the “ballpark”.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    @bohemian: remember those halcyon days when our beef and chicken wouldn’t poison us, and we didn’t have to treat it like toxic waste? Sigh.

    If al Queda did to our meat supplies what our megacorp meat processors did, we’d declare war – err, or Bush would invade… (spinning a bottle)… Sweden!

    Seriously: WTF happened to this country (besides Republicans controlling all three branches of government for an instant)?

  20. forever_knight says:

    @thepounder: agreed. more use of the word douchebag and large bold text!!! consumerist = sassy!

  21. VA_White says:

    RIP Douchebags = BEST CONSUMERIST GRAPHIC EVER

    Those shady lending places are folding like napkins. Huzzah!

  22. Sudonum says:

    @OKH:
    I’ve had real estate transactions in several states but not NY. Never had a lawyer with me on any of them. Doesn’t mean I’m prevented from having one present. Just not required. Here in LA law offices handle most of the closing. And usually the buyer gets to chose the closing agent. So if you’re buying, your lawyer has usually prepared and reviewed the documents.

  23. indiie says:

    You have to look at the circumstances before you label anyone as an uninformed consumer- in my case, they preyed on a panicked single mom, who was trying to take care of a sick mother as well and needed financial help. I’d have had to spend about 3 months and a law degree to read the enormous stack of paperwork to find that they were ripping me off, and I didn’t have that kind of time before I would have lost my house. Their douchebag rep pretended to be my knight in shining armour and I fell for it- and paid out the ass when I finally managed to sell my house and pay off the loan. I got my class-action paperwork in the mail and can get a minimum of $177, I believe. That won’t go anywhere towards recouping what I lost, but now I am an older, wiser and bitter renter. and thankfully debt-free.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    @OKH: i had a lawyer at my purchase, but get this – the first thing i had to sign was a disclosure that stated that he would be acting attorney for me & the bank.

    now, i could have said no, but then he would’ve had to scare up another attorney at 4pm on a friday (& i would’ve had another $500 in closing costs). my attorney did an excellent job of explaining EVERYTHING & answering all 6000 of my questions, but i chose him. i didn’t use my broker’s attorney or a referral from my realtor. imagine how easy a person could get screwed in a situation like this with broker referrals & especially shady lawyers.

    back to the story…it’s sad b/c no one will go to jail for the fraud, but thousands of people have lost or will soon lose their dreams.

  25. Rusted says:

    @NeoteriX: People still got to look out for themselves, I’m not anyone elses’s keeper.

    @Avery: Loving it, long past time for a correction.

  26. Trackback says:

    Consumerist commemorates the fall of Ameriquest, one of the scummiest subprime lenders with this apropos graphic: Also from the Consumerist article: Ameriquest, the lender the epitomized everything that was f*cked up about the subprime mortgage meltdown, is dead.