FHA mortgage lender settles whistleblower’s fraud allegations for $13.2 million

by Ben Vernia | October 22nd, 2018

On October 19, the Department of Justice announced that an FHA mortgage lender had agreed to pay $13.2 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that the firm violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying that the loans it originated met the government’s requirements. According to DOJ’s press release:

Universal American Mortgage Company LLC (UAMC) has agreed to pay the United States $13.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying that it complied with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance requirements in connection with certain loans, the Department of Justice announced today.  UAMC is a mortgage lender headquartered in Miami, Florida.

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During the time period covered by the settlement, UAMC participated as a direct endorsement lender (DEL) in the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) FHA insurance program.  A DEL has the authority to originate, underwrite and endorse mortgages for FHA insurance.  If a DEL approves a mortgage loan for FHA insurance and the loan later defaults, the holder of the loan may submit an insurance claim to HUD, FHA’s parent agency, for the losses resulting from the defaulted loan.  Under the DEL program, the FHA does not review a loan for compliance with FHA requirements before it is endorsed for FHA insurance.  DELs are therefore required to follow program rules designed to ensure that they are properly underwriting and certifying mortgages for FHA insurance and to maintain a quality control program that can prevent and correct deficiencies in their underwriting practices.

The United States alleged that between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2011, UAMC knowingly submitted loans for FHA insurance that did not qualify.  The United States further alleged that UAMC improperly incentivized underwriters and knowingly failed to perform quality control reviews, which violated HUD requirements and contributed to UAMC’s submission of defective loans.

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DOJ announced that the whistleblower, a former employee of a company related to the defendant, will receive $1,980,000 of the settlement (a 15% relator’s share).

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