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When underwriters refused to approve dubious loans, they were punished, she says.
MS. COOPER started at WaMu in 2003 and lasted three and a half years. At first, she was allowed to do her job, she says. In February 2007, though, the pressure became intense. WaMu executives told employees they were not making enough loans and had to get their numbers up, she says.
“They started giving loan officers free trips if they closed so many loans, fly them to Hawaii for a month,” Ms. Cooper recalls. “One of my account reps went to Jamaica for a month because he closed $3.5 million in loans that month.”
Although Ms. Cooper couldn’t see it, the wheels were already coming off the subprime bus.
“If a loan came from a top loan officer, they didn’t care what the situation was, you had to make that loan work,” she says. “You were like a bad person if you declined a loan.”
One loan file was filled with so many discrepancies that she felt certain it involved mortgage fraud. She turned the loan down, she says, only to be scolded by her supervisor.
“She told me, ‘This broker has closed over $1 million with us and there is no reason you cannot make this loan work,’ ” Ms. Cooper says. “I explained to her the loan was not good at all, but she said I had to sign it.”
The argument did not end there, however. Ms. Cooper says her immediate boss complained to the team manager about the loan rejection and asked that Ms. Cooper be “written up,” with a formal letter of complaint placed in her personnel file.