ATLANTA — A class action lawsuit alleges that banking giant Wells Fargo discriminates against African-American borrowers at all stages of the home loan process.
Henry Umeana is an IT professional with an excellent credit score, and he had a down payment ready to buy a house, but he said there was no explanation why his mortgage with Wells Fargo, where he has been in the bank for two decades, has never been approved.
“I keep waiting and pushing the closing date from April to May and from May to June, and during that time I was still renting,” Umeana said.
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Umeana eventually went elsewhere for the loan.
He is one of the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo.
The attorneys behind the lawsuit met with clients at Mount Zion Second Baptist Church in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward to discuss the case.
“They discriminate against black people, and it’s systemic,” attorney Ben Crump said.
The lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo denies mortgages to black borrowers more often, charges black borrowers higher interest rates, charges them higher costs and fees, and provides African Americans with fewer refinancing opportunities.
Christopher Williams, an Atlanta resident, worked in finance himself and says the home loan Wells Fargo offered him came with a much higher rate than it should have been, and higher what he found elsewhere.
Wells Fargo calls lawsuit ‘baseless attacks’, saying Channel 2 in a report:
“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations of discrimination which we believe do not stand up to scrutiny. We are confident that we follow relevant guidelines from government-sponsored companies in our decision-making and that our underwriting practices are applied consistently, regardless of a client’s race or ethnicity.
Lawyers said they have no way of knowing how many African-American borrowers might be included in the class action until they get discovery documents from Wells Fargo, but they believe it it could be tens of thousands of customers.
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“Wells Fargo Discrimination was blind in discrimination. Seems like the only common denominator was the candidate’s skin color,” Crump said.
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