Ben Crump joins other lawyers on behalf of black families discriminated against by Wells Fargo, the largest bank mortgage lender in the US
“Last month it was reported that Wells Fargo approved only 47% of mortgage applications from black homeowners, compared to 72% for white applicants. We are suing Wells Fargo to demand that they CHANGE their practices that are destroying opportunities for black homeowners!” Attorney Ben Crump wrote on social media on April 14.
Crump, a well-known trial and civil rights attorney, has worked for several black clients after questionable police actions killed or injured family members, and is currently representing the family of a St. Louis teenager who was killed in an amusement park accident and has become one Lawsuit against him joined Wells Fargo.
Crump has joined an existing lawsuit filed by Chris Williams in February 2022. Williams alleges that Wells Fargo tried to charge him a higher interest rate than his credit rating required.
He is a black homeowner living in Georgia. He refinanced with another mortgage company in 2019. Two other new plaintiffs also joined the lawsuit.
“My credit score was just under 800 before I applied. They told me my credit score was 100 points down.” Williams told the media about his credit history.
“We are deeply concerned by allegations of discrimination that we believe do not stand up to scrutiny,” Wells Fargo said in a press release on the matter.
These baseless attacks on Wells Fargo are in stark contrast to the company’s significant and long-term commitment to closing the minority home ownership gap.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Wells Fargo denies black borrowers home loans at a higher interest rate and charges black borrowers higher interest rates.
On April 11, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Comptroller Brad Lander announced that the city would no longer deposit money with Wells Fargo, citing alleged disproportionate refusals of mortgage loans to black loan applicants.
The bank turned down requests from more than half of black Americans seeking refinance in 2020 and nearly 50% next year, according to an amended lawsuit by attorney Dennis Ellis. “No other major lender has refused to refinance the homes of black Americans at such staggering rates,” it noted.
“Our lawsuit follows Bloomberg’s reporting in late March,” Ellis said of the news service’s coverage, which showed Wells Fargo approved only 47% of black homeowners who applied for mortgage refinance in 2020, compared to 72% of the White applicants.
“The notion that in 2022 we’re still talking about redlining by a major financial institution is shocking,” Ellis told CBS MoneyWatch, referencing a practice that has included the Federal Housing Administration’s refusal to grant mortgages in and in the past to insure black quarters.
To add insult to injury, black applicants from Wells Fargo were disproportionately rejected or delayed as borrowers rushed to refinance and cut their monthly payments because of record-low interest rates, Ellis said.
“It is grossly unfair and detrimental to our society as a whole that black Americans have not been able to benefit from low interest rates, which will likely never be seen again, that occurred during the peak of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s affecting the white Americans who live next door — their kids don’t get to experience the diversity of a mosaic-like environment.”
Wells Fargo denied the allegations in an email statement.
“In 2020, Wells Fargo was the largest bank lender for home mortgages to black families. This is consistent with the company’s performance over the past decade (2011-2020), during which it has helped as many black families buy homes as the next three largest bank lenders combined. Any suggestion that our home lending practices are discriminatory is worthless.”
Wells Fargo is also being called out with the Democrats by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon notice the bank’s “history of defrauding and abusing consumers”.
That includes a $184 million settlement in 2012 with the Justice Department over allegations that Wells Fargo steered eligible African American and Hispanic borrowers to subprime mortgages.
Wells Fargo found out four years later even at the center of a scandal that’s what it costs CEO his job, along with 5,000 other employees. The bank was fined nearly $200 million in 2016 for illegally opening millions of fake deposit and credit card accounts.
Two years later, in 2018, Wells Fargo was fined more than $1 billion to settle federal consumer abuse charges related to its auto loan and mortgage businesses.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and host of the BURKEFILE podcast. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.