It's bad enough subprime lenders have run the entire U.S. securities market aground. But when they're accused of picking on an ailing 72-year-old grandma from Portland, that lands them in the Rogue desk's crosshairs.
This week's finger of shame points to Twin Capital Mortgage of San Francisco, whose founders, fraternal twins Darius and Mike Mirshahzadeh , described themselves as "equity ninjas" in a glowing write-up last year in the San Francisco Business Times .
Those, of course, were the heady days before the market collapsed and foreclosure numbers soared. And guys like the Mirshahzadeh twins, who got rich making high-interest loans to desperate borrowers with bad credit, are the root of the problem.
They bragged in the Business Times about trolling the Internet to find high-risk customers for home mortgages. And in November last year their call center dialed Bettye Cooks-Gunn, a retired parole-office administrator from North Portland. The company offered to refinance her $237,000 home with lower interest rates and lower monthly payments, pay off her credit cards and provide her with $15,000 in cash. Cooks-Gunn agreed.
She says a notary public came to her four-bedroom house and asked her to sign the papers at 11 pm, an hour when the medication she takes for a long list of ailments makes her easily confused. She says the loan application they presented to her lied, identifying her as an interior decorator who makes $6,000 a month. In reality, her monthly income from pensions and Social Security is just $2,500, which would not have qualified her for the loan.
Instead of saving her money, the additional fees and interest will end up costing Cooks-Gunn an additional $15,000, according to her attorney, Terrance Slominski.
Cooks-Gunn filed suit against Twin Capital on Aug. 14 in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeking $1.4 million plus other damages to be proven at trial. The suit claims the company targeted her for fraud because she was elderly and confused. Even though they make their living cold-calling other people, the Mirshahzadeh brothers did not return WW' s repeated requests for comment.