After she lost her job in the fall of 2007, Cassandra Daniels had a word with a trio of her managers. As she recalls it, she told them she was praying that, someday, they’d learn to use their positions of power “to uplift your staff instead of destroying people.”
She cleaned out her desk and taped a handwritten sign to her computer screen, quoting one of her favorite gospel songs: “GIANTS DO FALL.”
That marked the end of Daniels’ tumultuous relationship with Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation’s largest home lender during the mortgage boom.
For Daniels, her four years as a loan underwriter inside Countrywide’s mortgage-production machine were a blur of 12- and 14-hour workdays and frequent clashes with managers and salespeople regarding loans she believed were tainted by fraud.
When she rejected loans that were based on inflated income statements or other questionable information, she says, management overruled her and pushed the deals through.
“The sad part is I lost hope in the integrity of any system,” Daniels recalled in an interview with iWatch News. “Because there were supposed to be checks and balances. But there weren’t. All these people were driven by pure greed. And they didn’t care that it was at the expense of other human beings.”
Bank of America Corp., which bought Countrywide in 2008, declined to comment on Daniels’ account of her time at the lender. However, a spokesman has dismissed the idea that Countrywide management encouraged fraud inside the company. When fraud happens, the spokesman said, “the lender is almost always a victim, even if the fraud is perpetrated by individual employees.”
‘Fast and sleazy’
Before she began working at a Countrywide branch in Chicago’s western suburbs in the summer of 2003, Daniels, a single mom, was working two jobs, as a manager at a local bank in Naperville, Ill., and as a night auditor at a Marriott hotel.