Is This Woman The Smoking Gun Of The Mortgage Meltdown?

Meet Tracy Warren. NPR says she’s not surprised by the mortgage meltdown because she was supposed to be in charge of preventing it. Tracy worked for a quality control contractor that reviewed subprime loans for investment banks before they were sold on Wall Street, and her company’s biggest client was none other than Bear Stearns. Tracy says she found plenty of loans to reject. The trouble is, according to Tracy, after she rejected them… her bosses unrejected them.

From NPR:

“I’d see people who were hotel workers saying that they made, in California, making $15,000 a month so that they could qualify for a $500,000 home,” Warren says. “If a hotel worker is making $15,000 a month changing sheets at the Days Inn, everybody would want to do it. It just really made no sense.”

Warren has worked in the mortgage business for 25 years, the past five in quality control. Most recently, she was a contract worker for a company called Watterson-Prime, which did loan audits for investment banks. She says their biggest client was Bear Stearns, which recently all but collapsed because of its exposure to bad loans.

Putting Bad Apples Back in the Barrel

Warren thinks her supervisors didn’t want her to do her job. She says that when she would reject, or kick out, a loan, they usually would overrule her and approve it.

“The QC reviewer who reviewed our kicks would say, ‘Well, I thought it had merit.’ And it was like ‘What?’ Their credit score was below 580. And if it was an income verification, a lot of times they weren’t making the income. And it was like, ‘What kind of merit could you have determined?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.’ “

After a while, Warren says, her supervisors stopped telling her when she had been overruled. She figured it out by going back later and pulling the loans up on her computer.

“I would look every couple of days, and just see, if it was a loan that I thought was a bad loan, I’d go back and see if it was pulled.”

About 75 percent of the time, loans that should have been rejected were still put into the pool and sold, she says.

NPR says Tracy’s story isn’t the only evidence emerging that points to Wall Street. According to one report, some investment banks agreed to reject only a certain percentage of loans — regardless of how many were actually bad.

Loan Auditor: Supervisors Covered Up Bad Loans [NPR]
(Photo: Getty)