oversight

The Federal Housing Administration Loan Origination Process at First Source Financial USA, Henderson, NV, Did Not Fully Comply with HUD Requirements

Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2005-05-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

   AUDIT REPORT




FIRST SOURCE FINANCIAL USA

   HENDERSON, NEVADA

       2005-LA-1003

        May 12, 2005



       OFFICE OF AUDIT
    PACIFIC/HAWAII REGION
   LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA




              1
                                                               Issue Date
                                                               May 12, 2005
                                                               Audit Report Number
                                                               2005-LA-1003




TO:          Frank L. Davis, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing, H

             Margarita Maisonet, Director, Enforcement Center, CV


FROM:        Joan S. Hobbs, Regional Inspector General for Audit, Pacific/Hawaii
                Region, Los Angeles, 9DGA

SUBJECT: The Federal Housing Administration Loan Origination Process at First
               Source Financial USA, Henderson, NV, Did Not Fully Comply with
               HUD Requirements



                                HIGHLIGHTS

 What We Audited and Why


            We audited First Source Financial USA (First Source) in Henderson,
            Nevada. We selected First Source because it had a large number of
            defaults and claims. We examined the loan origination process on 20
            loans, of which 18 had a reported default.

            Our audit objectives were to determine whether the mortgagee:

                •   Complied with U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
                    Development (HUD)/Federal Housing Administration
                    requirements in the origination of Federal Housing Administration-
                    insured loans, and




                                         2
              •      Implemented a quality control plan that complied with HUD
                     requirements.

What We Found

           We determined that First Source disregarded HUD requirements and
           allowed the following to originate and process Federal Housing
           Administration-insured loans:

              •      Independent contractors (nonemployees).

              •      Prohibited net branch arrangements as well as non-HUD approved
                     branches.

              •      Third party mortgagees.

           In addition, we found loans were insured based on falsified information.
           We also determined that First Source had implemented a quality control
           plan, but it was not always effective, nor was it in total compliance with
           HUD requirements. We will not present our findings and discuss
           recommended corrective actions on quality controls in this report, because
           First Source surrendered its approval to originate Federal Housing
           Administration loans effective December 15, 2004.

What We Recommend

           Because First Source surrendered its Federal Housing Administration
           approval authority, we will not recommend indemnification of all First
           Source loans in active and claim status. Rather, we recommend the
           General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing impose civil money
           penalties, and any other administrative sanctions deemed appropriate, in
           accordance with the recommendations following each finding. In
           addition, we recommend the Director of the Departmental Enforcement
           Center proceed with recommended debarments.

           For each recommendation without a management decision, please respond
           and provide status reports in accordance with HUD Handbook 2000.06,
           REV-3. Please furnish us copies of any correspondence or directives
           issued because of the audit.

Auditee’s Response

           We provided First Source Financial a draft report on March 28, 2005, and
           held an exit conference on April 8, 2005. First Source Financial provided



                                         3
written comments on April 27, 2005. They generally agreed but took
issue with some of our report findings.

The complete text of the auditee’s response, along with our evaluation of
that response, can be found in Appendix B of this report.




                             4
                            TABLE OF CONTENTS


Background and Objectives                                                              6

Results of Audit
        Finding 1: First Source Allowed Nonemployees and Unapproved Branches to        8
        Originate and Process Federal Housing Administration-Insured Loans
        Finding 2: Federal Housing Administration Loans Were Originated and            12
        Processed With False Information and Known Misrepresentations
        Finding 3: First Source Allowed Questionable Lending Practices by Collecting   16
        Unearned Fees
Scope and Methodology                                                                  20

Internal Controls                                                                      21

Appendixes
   A.   Schedule of Questioned Costs and Funds To Be Put to Better Use                 23
   B.   Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation                                          24
   C.   False Documentation and Related Claim Amounts                                  34
   D.   Yield Spread Premiums                                                          35




                                           5
                     BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Background
First Source Financial USA (First Source) in Henderson, NV, was incorporated in
February 1998 and received U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) approval to originate Federal Housing Administration loans as a non-supervised
loan correspondent on January 10, 2001. According to HUD’s Neighborhood Watch
System, First Source has a total of ten active branches and eight that have been
terminated. There were four approved locations (the home office and three branches) in
the Las Vegas/Henderson area. The remaining approved branches were located in nine
other states.

On October 13, 2004, the HUD Office of Inspector General Region VIII (Denver) Office
of Audit issued an audit report on the Midvale, UT, branch office of First Source. The
report detailed ineffective loan origination and quality control processes. This included:

   •   Invalid employment information,

   •   Loan origination by independent contract loan officers, and

   •   Quality control plans not implemented.

On September 13, 2004, First Source requested HUD terminate its authority to originate
Federal Housing Administration-insured loans and cited “limited loan amounts in our
area as well as additional expenses associated with originating Federal Housing
Administration loans.” On December 15, 2004, First Source was terminated as a Federal
Housing Administration approved lender.

We selected First Source for audit based on its large number of defaults and claims.
Based on data from HUD’s Neighborhood Watch system, we determined First Source
had 231 defaults and 38 claims reported between January 24, 2001, and February 29,
2004. Neighborhood Watch also showed there were 2,017 Federal Housing
Administration loans originated, with a total mortgage amount of $239,189,800. As of
November 29, 2004, HUD incurred losses of $340,400 on 14 out of 20 loans in our audit
sample. The mortgage amounts for these loans totaled $1,747,949.

Objectives
The audit objectives were to determine whether First Source complied with HUD
regulations, procedures, and instructions in the origination and processing of Federal
Housing Administration loans. We wanted to determine whether First Source

   •   Loan officers were employees;




                                             6
•   Paid operating expenses for its net branches, had HUD approval to originate
    Federal Housing Administration loans from the branches, and allowed third party
    originations;

•   Allowed misrepresentations in the loan process; and/or

•   Implemented a quality control plan that complied with HUD requirements.




                                        7
RESULTS OF AUDIT


Finding 1: First Source Allowed NonEmployees and Unapproved
Branches To Originate and Process Federal Housing Administration-
Insured Loans
First Source used nonemployee loan officers and processors to originate and process
Federal Housing Administration-insured loans contrary to HUD requirements. First
Source also allowed unapproved branch offices and third party mortgage companies to
use its Federal Housing Administration home office lender identification number to
obtain Federal Housing Administration insurance endorsements. As a result, First Source
could not directly control or effectively supervise the loan origination and processing
function, and therefore contributed to an increased risk to the Federal Housing
Administration insurance fund. We attribute the noncompliance to First Source’s lack of
knowledge and/or disregard for HUD/Federal Housing Administration requirements.



          Loans were Originated and Processed by NonEmployees

 Loan Officers and Processors
 Were Not Always Employees

              First Source originated virtually all of its Federal Housing Administration-
              insured loans through independent contractors or nonemployees, contrary
              to Mortgagee Letter 95-36. The Mortgagee Letter prohibits contracting
              out customary loan origination functions that would materially affect
              underwriting decisions.

              First Source entered into agreements with independent contractors to
              originate Federal Housing Administration loans instead of employing its
              own loan officers. First Source used standard contract language that stated
              the agreements were between First Source, as “broker” and the
              independent contractor, as the “mortgage originator.” The agreements
              further stated that the “MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR hereby
              acknowledges and agrees he is an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR and
              not a servant, employee, joint venture, or partner of the BROKER.” We
              corroborated the contract arrangements during interviews/discussions with
              First Source management officials, former employees and independent
              contract loan officers. During these discussions, we also determined loan
              officers could not participate in any company benefits and rented office
              space if they worked in the home office.



                                           8
            Most Federal Housing Administration loans at First Source were
            originated through these independent contractor agreements. HUD’s
            Neighborhood Watch system showed 2,017 Federal Housing
            Administration-insured loans were originated under First Source’s lender
            number during our audit period. First Source had no records for 36 of the
            loans. We analyzed the remaining Federal Housing Administration loans
            and identified over 240 independent contract loan officers. These loan
            officers originated $239,189,808 in Federal Housing Administration
            mortgages for First Source. One independent contract loan officer
            originated 115 Federal Housing Administration loans totaling over
            $12,900,000. Based on First Source accounting records, this loan officer
            received over $463,000 in all loan commissions during 2002 alone.

            In addition to independent contract loan officers, we determined at least
            two loan processors were neither First Source employees nor commercial
            providers. First Source did not maintain personnel files for the loan
            processors hired by the independent contract loan officers. Although
            Mortgagee Letter 95-36 allows some loan functions normally performed
            by a loan processor to be contracted out, the functions must be contracted
            out to a commercial provider. Most First Source processors had a working
            arrangement with the independent contractors.

            HUD Handbook 4060.1, REV-1, requires mortgagees to maintain control
            and responsible management supervision over employees. By contracting
            out almost all loan origination and some loan processing functions, First
            Source could not exercise adequate control and proper supervision of its
            contractors. Consequently, the deficient quality of some loans increased
            Federal Housing Administration insurance fund risks and, as our audit tests
            of the loan files showed, also increased borrower costs (see Finding 3).

      Loans were Originated by Unapproved Net Branches and Third
                        Party Loan Originators

Unapproved Branches and Third
Party Originators Were Allowed


            Our review found that First Source was originating Federal Housing
            Administration loans from at least 17 unapproved branches. According to
            HUD Handbook 4060.1, REV-1, lenders must be approved by HUD to
            originate, purchase, hold or sell HUD/Federal Housing Administration
            insured mortgages. Lenders are also required to submit applications to
            HUD for each branch office originating loans for insurance.

            First Source circumvented Federal Housing Administration approval
            requirements by allowing the unapproved branches to use its home office


                                         9
             Federal Housing Administration lender identification number. This
             practice is known as ‘net branching.’ Although these were supposedly
             First Source branches, they were in actuality individual companies. The
             branch managers and loan officers had often incorporated and their
             respective commissions were paid in the name of their independent
             corporations. According to interviews with First Source management and
             former net branch managers, the managers paid all expenses of the
             branch,including rent, furniture, telephone, etc. First Source did not
             reimburse these expenses. This is a violation of HUD Handbook 4060.1
             REV-1, which states in paragraph 2-17 that a HUD/Federal Housing
             Administration approved lender is required to pay all of its operating
             expenses for the main and branch offices.

             Paragraph 1-2 of HUD Handbook 4060.1, REV-1, specifies that
             HUD/Federal Housing Administration-insured loans may only be
             originated by lenders that have been approved by HUD. Approved lenders
             are permitted to conduct these activities from branch offices; however,
             separate entities may not operate as branches of a HUD/Federal Housing
             Administration lender. HUD considers this type of branch arrangement,
             whereby the branch lacks HUD approval as a third party origination, a
             violation of Departmental requirements.

             Mortgagee Letter 00-15 states …“The Department has learned that some
             HUD/FHA approved mortgagees are engaged in the practice of accepting
             an existing, separate mortgage company or broker as a branch and
             allowing that separate entity to originate insured mortgages under the
             approved HUD Mortgagee Number. Some mortgagees refer to this
             arrangement as a ‘net branch.’ This, however, constitutes a prohibited net
             branch arrangement…”

             First Source was also involved in “co-brokering” Federal Housing
             Administration-insured loans for at least one mortgage company. There
             were at least three independent contractor loan officers who originated
             loans for a mortgage company called Southern Fidelity Mortgage LLC.
             We identified six loans where Southern Fidelity received disbursements
             between $495 and $1,055. As previously stated, third party loan
             originations are a violation of HUD requirements.

Conclusion


        Due to their disregard of HUD requirements, First Source allowed
        nonemployees and unapproved branches to originate and process Federal
        Housing Administration-insured loans. As a result, there was increased risk to
        the Federal Housing Administration insurance fund. Mortgagee Letter 00-15
        concludes with the following:


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       “The Department believes the origination of insured mortgages by lenders that
       have not received HUD/Federal Housing Admnistration approval increases
       the risk to the Federal Housing Administration insurance fund and to the
       public. Accordingly, mortgagees found to be in violation may be subject to
       the full range of HUD sanctions.”

       In addition, we believe First Source Financial surrendered its authority to
       originate Federal Housing Administration-insured loans due to the results of
       this audit and the recent audit performed on their Midvale, UT branch office.
       We further believe that HUD will benefit from the removal of First Source
       and the prevention of additional future losses from claims to the FHA
       insurance fund. Using First Source’s current claim rate, we have quantified
       the future savings from preventing future losses, and the amount is shown
       below in recommendation 1A.

Recommendations


          We recommend that the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing
          require First Source to:

          1A. Pay civil money penalties for the following violations of HUD
          requirements that occurred between January 2001 and April 2004 :

              • Loans processed by independent contract loan officers and processors
                 who were not First Source employees or commercial providers.

              • Unapproved and prohibited net branch arrangements, and

              • Third party loan originations for Southern Fidelity Mortgage LLC.

          Due to First Source’s election to surrender its authority to originate Federal
          Housing Administration-insured loans, we have determined HUD’s future
          savings from loss prevention will amount to $389,000.

          We recommend the Director, Departmental Enforcement Center:

          1B. Debar the First Source principals for their disregard for HUD/Federal
          Housing Administration rules and regulations.




                                        11
Finding 2: Federal Housing Administration Loans Were Originated
and Processed With False Information and Known Misrepresentations

Federal Housing Administration-insured loans included false information and known
misrepresentations. This was due to failure to use due care, poor quality control
procedures, and disregard for HUD requirements. At least 7 of the 20 loans (35 percent)
reviewed contained falsified information to obtain Federal Housing Administration
insurance endorsement. As a result, HUD and the Federal Housing Administration
insurance fund assumed an unnecessary risk, and HUD has incurred losses totaling over
$159,600 on six of these loans (see Appendix C).


       Loans were Originated and Processed with False Information

 Seven Loan Files Contained
 Falsified Information

              During our review, we confirmed that 7 of the 20 loans we reviewed were
              approved based on false information. The misrepresented information
              included, but was not limited to, inadequate employment and credit
              verifications, a false Social Security number; and the addition of a
              coborrower to qualify for the loan. Additionally, a First Source loan
              officer obtained a property with a Federal Housing Administration insured
              loan using deceptive practices. In every instance, we confirmed the loan
              officer or processor should have known about the false information based
              on the available documentation.

              HUD Handbook 4155.1, REV-4, requires that mortgagees “…verify
              borrower’s employment for the most recent two years.” HUD relies on
              mortgagees to obtain factual data from the borrower and to verify and
              analyze the information obtained. Based on our review, First Source did
              not comply with this requirement. HUD Handbook 4155.1, REV-4, also
              precludes a borrower from having more than one Federal Housing
              Administration loan except under very specific extenuating circumstances.

              HUD Handbook 4060.1, REV-1, and Mortgagee Letter 96-18 both
              prohibit individuals from working for more than one company engaged in
              the real estate finance business at the same time. This also includes
              working as a real estate agent or broker as well as originating or
              underwriting loans for more than one lending institution.




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Loan No. 332-3867084

First Source independent contract loan officers and/or loan processors
were aware of borrowers’ false information, and, on occasion encouraged
nonqualified borrowers to find others to apply with them as coborrowers
for loans. This allowed the nonqualified borrowers to obtain loans for
which they would not otherwise be qualified. For example, we
interviewed a borrower who stated his loan officer had advised him to find
another individual as a coborrower on the loan. The loan officer stated the
borrower could remove the coborrower from the title after one year;
however, additional income was needed to qualify for the loan. The loan
officer also advised the borrower to obtain a cashier’s check in the co-
borrower’s name even though the borrower had already purchased a
cashier’s check. We documented that the borrower’s cashier check was
cashed to purchase a cashier’s check in the coborrower’s name. The
borrower also stated the loan officer was aware that his Social Security
number was false and that the borrower had purchased the Social Security
card in Los Angeles. This loan was a five-payment default and HUD
ultimately lost $5,072.

Loan No. 332-3807515

One First Source independent contract loan officer allowed a borrower to
obtain two Federal Housing Administration loans within one month. One
loan was for the purchase of a new home and closed December 10, 2001,
and the other was a cash-out refinance of his existing home. That loan
closed on December 20, 2001. The same First Source independent
contract loan officer originated the loans.

Based on our review, this occurred because the loan officer wanted to
purchase the new home and had the borrower agree to co-sign the loan.
The loan was never a co-sign in that the title never showed the loan
officer’s name. According to county records, the property was transferred
through a Grant, Bargain, and Sale of Deed to the loan officer’s
corporation on January 1, 2002. This was 11 days after the closing.
However, the loan officer did not record the sale with the Clark County
Recorder’s office for more than two years until January 22, 2004. Based
on documentation we obtained through interviewing a neighbor and from
the servicing mortgage company, we confirmed the loan officer lived in
the property more than two years and made the mortgage payments with
his personal checks. The loan officer concealed his ownership of the
property from HUD by not recording the transfer of ownership with the
county and keeping the loan in the name of the borrower for more than
two years until the loan officer sold the property.




                            13
         Loan No. 332-3682470

         We determined that at least two loan officers were working for a real
         estate company at the same time they were originating Federal Housing
         Administration loans at First Source. For example, we observed while
         reviewing escrow documents the loan officer on one of the loans was also
         shown as the real estate agent. We confirmed that he had received a
         commission from the sale of the property as well as for originating the
         loan. We also noted the Chief Executive Officer of First Source had
         signed the Uniform Residential Loan Application as the interviewer.
         When we spoke to him, he could not recall why he would have done this;
         however, he speculated the loan officer may have known he was not
         allowed to act as both loan officer and real estate agent.

         The Santa Ana Homeownership Center Quality Assurance Division
         performed a mortgagee monitoring review of the First Source home office
         in 2002. In its report dated November 29, 2002, finding 4 dealt with the
         issue of individuals working at other companies in a related industry. The
         report identified one particular loan officer as both a real estate agent and
         a loan officer. In the First Source response dated January 31, 2003, the
         company stated the “…circumstances of this transaction will not be
         repeated at First Source USA as we will ensure that the internal
         procedures described above are closely followed. We also have
         terminated our relationship with the sponsoring lender in this transaction
         and no longer do any business with [the named individual]…”.
         However, we determined the same individual originated a Federal
         Housing Administration loan in June of 2003.

         In the same response to finding 3, First Source stated it was taking steps to
         bring its operation into full compliance with HUD requirements. One step
         First Source reported instituting was that “…loan originators execute an
         exclusive affiliation agreement in which they commit that they will not
         perform any real estate sales or related financial services for any other
         person or entity during the period of their employment with First Source
         USA.” However, when we requested a copy of this agreement from the
         First Source Chief Executive Officer and President of Operations, they
         could not provide one. They stated the agreement had not been
         implemented until sometime in 2004.


Conclusion

         Due to lack of due professional care, poor quality controls, and disregard for
         HUD requirements, First Source allowed loans with false information and
         known misrepresentations to be processed. As a result, we determined HUD
         experienced losses totaling over $159,600 on 6 of the 20 loans we reviewed.


                                       14
        In addition, First Source reported to HUD that it had terminated at least one
        loan officer/real estate agent relationship and instituted steps to preclude any
        further issues with employees not working exclusively for First Source.
        However, neither of these purported actions occurred.

Recommendations



        We recommend that the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing
        require First Source to:

        2A.   Repay $159,663 in losses HUD incurred on six loans. (See
        Appendix C)

        2B.      Pay civil money penalties for allowing loan officers to also work for
        a real estate company.


        We recommend the Director, Departmental Enforcement Center:

        2C.     Debar the independent contract loan officer who obtained a Federal
        Housing Administration-insured loan through false pretenses and then
        deliberately concealed his ownership of the property. (Case Number 332-
        3807515)




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Finding3: First Source Allowed Questionable Lending Practices by
Collecting Unearned Fees

First Source allowed yield spread premiums, for which the borrowers received little or no
value or service. This was caused by the lack of oversight on the part of First Source.
Consequently, borrowers had unnecessarily high mortgage payments resulting in
subsequent defaults and foreclosures. Additionally, First Source loan officers received
compensation that exceeded the value of the loan origination services provided. This is a
violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).


 Yield Spread Premiums did not
 Offset Borrower Settlement Costs

              We determined that 19 of 20 loans we reviewed contained yield spread
              premiums. Eleven of the 19 (58 percent) showed loan officers received
              yield spread premiums and the borrowers received no value or service for
              the resulting higher interest rates. Yield spread premiums permit
              homebuyers to pay some or all of the upfront settlement costs over the life
              of the mortgage through a higher interest rate. Since the mortgage has a
              higher interest rate than the market or par rate, the lender is able to sell it
              to an investor at a higher price. Therefore, the lender compensates the
              broker for the price difference. According to the RESPA Statement of
              Policy 2001-1, a yield spread premium is considered an indirect fee and
              “… simply delivering a loan with a higher interest rate is not a
              compensable service.” It further states that if a payment or a portion
              thereof bears no reasonable relationship to the market value of the services
              provided, the excess over the market rate may be used as evidence of an
              unearned fee, in violation of Section 8(a) or 8(b) of RESPA.

              If used properly, the yield spread premium can be used as an effective and
              legitimate tool to assist the borrower. At First Source, however, loan
              officers received the yield spread premiums as a major part of their
              compensation. In turn, the loan officer paid an agreed upon flat rate fee to
              First Source for each loan originated. Our review showed the yield spread
              premium was used in a manner that took advantage of the borrowers with
              the complexity of the settlement transaction. The only benefit derived in
              the 11 loans cited above was additional income to the loan officers. In all
              11 cases, the borrowers’ upfront cash requirements were not reduced.




                                            16
Loan No. 332-3512984

For example, one loan we reviewed showed a yield spread premium
(rebate) of $4,032, yet the borrower had not received anything towards his
upfront cash requirements. The entire amount was commission for the
loan officer. The loan amount was $115,192. In this instance, the loan
officer also received over $2,800 for loan origination and various other
fees, for a total commission of more than $6,800. First Source received
$1,500 of the $6,800. The loan officer also appeared to have been
involved in creating the false employment documents and was listed as the
contact person for the claimed employer.

Loan No. 332-3810992

In 8 of the 20 loans, we determined borrowers did receive some benefit
from the yield spread premiums. For example, one borrower received a
credit for about $1,290; however, the commission sheet showed the loan
officer received more than $4,460 for the yield spread premium alone.
This amounted to only approximately 22 percent of the yield spread
premium being applied to pay borrower settlement charges and 78 percent
going to the loan officer. Total commission for the loan amounted to
almost $7,200. This is clearly not what a yield spread premium was
intended for and violates RESPA.

Mortgagee Letter 94-7 discusses the acceptable uses of premium rate
pricing (rebates) to cover some or all of a borrower’s closing costs and the
borrower then incurring a higher interest rate. In addition, the Letter states
that if a premium rate will result in excess funds over and above closing
costs and prepaids, the overage must be used to reduce the mortgage
principal balance.

RESPA is a consumer protection statute, first passed in 1974. The
purposes of RESPA are to

   •   Help consumers become better shoppers for settlement services,
       and

   •   Eliminate kickbacks and referral fees that unnecessarily increase
       the cost of certain settlement services.

Section 8 of RESPA prohibits a person from giving or accepting anything
of value for referrals of settlement service business related to a Federal-
related mortgage loan. It also prohibits a person from giving or accepting
any part of a charge for services that are not performed. However, the
above use of yield spread premiums resulted in total compensation in




                             17
             excess of what would be reasonably related to the total value of the
             origination services provided by the loan officers.

             When we discussed this with the Chief Executive Officer of First Source,
             he stated he could not control what the loan officers were charging. He
             indicated he knew there were excessive charges; however, he believed that
             if he attempted to impose restrictions, the loan officers would merely
             move to other mortgage companies. This is inconsistent with the
             customary employer-employee relationship and HUD requirements
             whereby the lender maintains control and supervision of employee actions.
             We also believe this demonstrated lack of concern for the borrowers and
             contributed to the questionable lending practices described in this report.


Yield Spread Premiums Were Not
Always Disclosed


             Mortgagee Letter 2001-26 states that “…meaningful disclosure of yield
             spread premiums, as early as possible in the mortgage origination process,
             will avoid confusion and enable borrowers to make informed choices.”
             However, two of the loans did not disclose the yield spread premiums on
             the HUD-1 or the Good Faith Estimates (Case Nos. 332-3938492 and 332-
             3867084 in Appendix D). Also, 11 other loans did not disclose the yield
             spread premiums on the Good Faith Estimates (Appendix D).

Conclusion


        First Source allowed loan officers to receive unearned indirect fees in the form
        of yield spread premiums from their improper use of the intended benefits of
        premium rate pricing. This was a clear violation of RESPA.

Recommendations


             We recommend that the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing
             require First Source to:

             3A. Pay civil money penalties for the RESPA violations on 19 of the loans
             in which the borrower received no or very little benefit from the yield spread
             premium (See Appendix D).

             3B. Review and analyze all Federal Housing Administration-insured loans
             with yield spread premiums in which no interest rate or principal balance


                                           18
reduction occurred. Report the results to the Mortgagee Review Board.
Refunds should be issued in the following order:

             1.     If the loan is current, a refund must be made to the
                                borrowers.

             2.     If the loan is delinquent, a refund must be applied to
                                the delinquency.

             3.     If a claim has been paid, a refund must be paid to
                               HUD and sent to HUD Single Family
                               Claims.




                          19
           SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY



We performed audit work from May through December 2004. The audit
period covered January 2001 through April 2004.

The primary audit methodologies included:

   • Evaluation of First Source’s management and quality control structure
      and risk assessment;

   • Interviews with current and prior First Source employees, independent
       contract loan officers and processors, and sponsor underwriters;

   • Interviews with borrowers; title company employees; neighbors; Clark
       County employees; insurance company employees; and individuals
       shown as employers, creditors, and landlords on loan documents;

   • Review of First Source and Federal Housing Administration loan files
      and selected First Source personnel documents and title company files;
      and

   • Review of public records and databases.

When we began the review, we obtained information from HUD’s
Neighborhood Watch system that showed there were 231 defaults reported
during the audit period. Of those 231, there were 38 loans in claim status.

We initially selected 18 loans for review. We added two loans increasing the
number to 20, with mortgages totaling over $2,518,000. We performed our
review in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




                              20
                               INTERNAL CONTROLS


Internal Controls are an integral component of an organization’s management that provides
reasonable assurance that the following objectives are being achieved:

   •   Effectiveness and efficiency of operations,
   •   Reliability of financial reporting, and
   •   Compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Internal controls relate to management’s plans, methods, and procedures used to meet its
mission, goals, and objectives. Internal controls include the processes and procedures for
planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations. They include the
systems for measuring, reporting, and monitoring program performance.




 Relevant Internal Controls
               We determined the following internal controls were relevant to our audit
               objectives:

               •      Validity and Reliability of Data – Policies and procedures that
                      management has implemented to reasonably ensure that valid and
                      reliable data are obtained, maintained, and used during the mortgage loan
                      origination process.
               •      Compliance with Laws and Regulations – Policies and procedures that
                      management has implemented to reasonable ensure that is loan
                      origination process is carried out in accordance with applicable laws and
                      regulations
               •      Quality Control Process – Policies and procedures established by
                      management to ensure the quality control plan has been implemented
                      and related reviews are performed.

               We assessed the relevant controls identified above.

 Significant Weaknesses

               A significant weakness exists if management controls do not provide reasonable
               assurance that the process for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling
               program operations will meet the organization’s objectives.

               Based on our review, we believe all three areas are significant weaknesses and
               contributed to the deficiencies reported in this report. First Source provided
               inadequate supervision and did not ensure Federal Housing Administration loans
               were processed in accordance with HUD requirements. In addition, the quality


                                             21
control plan did not meet all HUD requirements. However, because First Source
is no longer originating Federal Housing Administration loans, we will not have
a finding on this issue.




                              22
                                    APPENDIXES

Appendix A

                 SCHEDULE OF QUESTIONED COSTS
                AND FUNDS TO BE PUT TO BETTER USE


 Recommendation           Ineligible 1/    Unsupported      Unreasonable or     Funds To Be Put
       Number                                       2/       Unnecessary 3/      to Better Use 4/
              1A                                                                        $389,000

              2A              159,663


1/   Ineligible costs are costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program or
     activity that the auditor believes are not allowable by law; contract; or Federal, State,
     or local policies or regulations.

2/   Unsupported costs are those costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured
     program or activity when we cannot determine eligibility at the time of audit.
     Unsupported costs require a decision by HUD program officials. This decision, in
     addition to obtaining supporting documentation, might involve a legal interpretation
     or clarification of departmental policies and procedures.

3/   Unreasonable/unnecessary costs are those costs not generally recognized as ordinary,
     prudent, relevant, and/or necessary within established practices. Unreasonable costs
     exceed the costs that would be incurred by a prudent person in conducting a
     competitive business.

4/   “Funds to be put to better use” are quantifiable savings that are anticipated to occur if
     an OIG recommendation is implemented, resulting in reduced expenditures at a later
     time for the activities in question. This includes costs not incurred, deobligation of
     funds, withdrawal of interest, reductions in outlays, avoidance of unnecessary
     expenditures, loans and guarantees not made, and other savings.




                                            23
Appendix B

         AUDITEE COMMENTS AND OIG’S EVALUATION



Ref to OIG Evaluation     Auditee Comments




Comment 1




                          24
25
26
Comment 2




Comment 3




                            27
            Names have been redacted for privacy
Comment 4




Comment 5




                            28
            Names have been redacted for privacy
Comment 6




            29
                30
Names have been redacted for privacy
                31
Names have been redacted for privacy
                      OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments


              Finding 1: First Source Allowed Nonemployees and Unapproved
              Branches to Originate and Process Federal Housing
              Administration-Insured Loans

Comment 1We disagree with First Source Financial USA’s response to this finding.
              Mortgagee Letter 95-36 states that mortgagees may not contract out
              customary loan officer functions. Based on the Independent Contract
              Agreement signed by loan officers and First Source management, loan
              officers were not employees. This situation was repeatedly emphasized by
              Human Resources and Administrative First Source staff. Therefore, we
              determined First Source had contracted out loan officer functions with
              independent contractors. Whether or not Nevada state law allows this
              arrangement is not pertinent because HUD is clear that this is not allowed.

Comment 2Although First Source states it has always required loan officers to use loan
              processors employees by First Source, we determined that at least two
              individuals were never employed by the mortgagee. The Director of Human
              Resources could not provide a personnel file for either of the two loan
              processors we identified during our review although one of them appeared on
              several telephone listings as the loan processor at one of the net branches. We
              believe this speaks to the issue of whether First Source provided adequate
              supervision of its loan officers.

Comment 3First Source contends that its net branches were largely established during a
              former employee’s tenure and, that employee took actions that were not in the
              company’s best interests. Although we do not necessarily agree with this
              explanation, we believe this further substantiates that First Source did not
              actually supervise and control its employees.

Comment 4In addition, First Source states it discontinued the practice of co-brokering
              FHA loans with another mortgage company. When we spoke to the First
              Source President/CEO regarding this practice, he was surprised this was a
              prohibited arrangement.




                                            32
             Finding 2: Federal Housing Administration Loans were Originated and
             Processed with False Information and Known Misrepresentations

Comment 5First Source contends that no mortgage broker can completely preclude
             dishonest loan officers and processors. OIG agrees with this statement;
             however, the mortgagee bears the responsibility for the loans it originates.
             Based on our extensive review, all seven loans were originated based on false
             and known misrepresentations. We did not report other loans where we
             found false documentation but could not determine whether a First Source
             contractor and/or employee had knowledge of the fictitious information.

             Finding 3: First Source Allowed Questionable Lending Practices by Collecting
             Unearned Fees

Comment 6We disagree that OIG implies a yield spread premium is per se illegal. Based
             on our review, we do not believe either of the two tests described in RESPA
             Statement of Policy 2001-1 were met when First Source loan officers received
             unearned compensation for work not performed. Again, based on our audit of
             loan documentation, we believe borrowers were neither apprised of the yield
             spread premiums nor received any benefit. We rarely saw any indication that
             higher rate mortgages provided any benefit except to increase the loan
             officer/mortgagee compensation.




                                           33
  Appendix C




                                      False Documentation and Related Claim Amounts



                                    False Paystubs & False         False                     False Social
         Loan       False/Invalid     Wage & Tax     Alternative   Employment False Rent Security
 # 332 Amount       Borrower           Statements    Credit        Verification Verification Number       Status       HUD Loss
3841557     $89,725                         X              X              X                               Claim          $32,782.54
3867084 $130,985                                                                      X           X       Claim           $5,072.07
3512984 $115,192                           X               X                                              Claim           $1,105.02
3810992 $148,494                           X                              X           X                   Claim          $21,918.60
3804417 $106,052                           X                              X           X                   Claim          $69,607.97
3807515 $141,927            X                                                                             Terminated
3619948 $136,923                           X               X              X                               Claim          $29,176.69
   Totals $869,298          1              5               3              4           3           1                     $159,662.89




                                                         34
Appendix D
                                         Yield Spread Premiums

Federal
Housing                                                                     % of YSP       Disclosed on
Administration                                                              Applied to    the Good Faith
# 332-         Mortgage Amount                  YSP          YSP Credited Closing Costs      Estimate
       3807515  141,927                           928                0                 0%      N/AV
       3841557   89,725                         1,206                0                 0%        N
       3804417  106,052                        1,259                 0                 0%      N/AV
       3571585  136,852                        2,022                 0                 0%      N/AV
                                               2,363
      3938492    118,146                   Not on HUD-1         0                         0%            N
      3870293    126,022                       3,466            0                         0%            N
      3512984    115,192                       4,032            0                         0%            N
      3682470    137,837                       4,652            0                         0%            N
      3688870    140,790                       5,104            0                         0%            N
      3624006    113,781                       3,982            01                        0%           N/AV
      3785064     81,200                       1,015            0                         0%           N/AV
      3737414    140,022                       3,626         86                         2.4%            N
      3948999    154,082                       4,622        286                         6.2%            N
      4124230    118,817                       3,565        356                        10.0%            N
      3690901    132,421                       5,793        605                        10.4%            N
      3810992    148,494                       5,754      1,290 2                      22.4%           N/AV
      3619948    136,923                       1,027        382                        37.2%            N
      3688893    136,261                       5,791      2,971                        51.3%            N
      3867084    130,985                   Not on HUD-1     5113               Undetermined             N
     Total    $ 2,405,529                    $60,207    $ 6,487                                       N = 13

N/A = Not applicable
N/AV = Not available in loan file
N = No

1
  The HUD-1 Settlement Statement shows a broker credit of $3,839 but it was taken back from what the
borrower paid through an unearned discount fee of $3,878.
2
   The HUD-1 Settlement Statement shows a broker credit of $1,290 and also shows the seller paid a $1,485
loan discount fee on behalf of the buyer; however, the lender did not provide a loan discount to the buyer. The
loan officer pocketed these funds intended for the buyer’s benefit.
3
   The HUD-1 Settlement Statement shows a $511 broker credit but also shows the seller paid a $2,264 loan
discount fee on behalf of the buyer; however, the lender did not provide a loan discount to the buyer. The loan
officer pocketed these funds intended for the buyer’s benefit.




                                                      35