Former Wells Fargo Loan Officer: Black Churches Were Targeted for Subprime Loans

By Julianne Hing Aug 28, 2009

Elizabeth Jacobson, a former loan officer for Wells Fargo in Baltimore, filed an affidavit in federal court against the bank, providing an account of the company directives to aggressively pursue Blacks for subprime mortgages. Check out Juan Gonzalez’s interview with her on Democracy Now! Jacobson explains the company strategy:

The management there, would encourage the loan officers, the subprime loan officers, to go into Baltimore city and target the churches, the African American churches, to get a relationship going with the minister or the reverend at the church and try to get that person to schedule some sort of meeting. They would call it a “wealth-building seminar” to get the parishioners of the church to attend. And any loan that was funded by Wells Fargo, whether a purchase or a refinance, $350 would then be donated to the church. And so, that was the incentive for the church to want to have these seminars there. But what would happen is the only loan officers that would attend these seminars were generally the subprime loan officers. And on these conference calls, at one point, somebody made a joke who happened to be a white loan officer and said, “Well, will I be able to go to these seminars?” And they were told right there on the conference call, unless you were of color, you could not attend these conferences, these wealth-building conferences. So it seemed me—Wells Fargo didn’t come right out and say this; this is just what I saw—is that they wanted the African American Wells Fargo loan officers to sell loans to the African American community.