The CFPB has ordered a Missouri mortgage lender to pay over $81,000 related to an illegal kickback scheme.
The company, Fidelity Mortgage Corporation, was found to be unlawfully in cahoots with a local bank. Here’s how it worked: the bank funneled potential mortgage borrowers to Fidelity. Fidelity leased office space from the bank. In return for all of those juicy referrals, Fidelity sent the bank cash that it tried to disguise as “inflated lease payments.”
Giving or receiving kickbacks for referrals of business relating to federally-related mortgages, however, is illegal. And trying to pretend your thank-you cash is just extra rent does not make it any more legal.
Fidelity is being required to pay back all the proceeds from the illegal referrals, a total of $27,076. The remaining $54,000 is a civil penalty payment to the CFPB.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement, “Kickbacks harm consumers by hampering fair market competition and by unnecessarily increasing the costs of getting a mortgage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will continue to take action against schemes that steer consumers to lenders through unscrupulous and illegal business practices.”