Elizabeth Jacobson, Wells Fargo Whistle-Blower, Claims Bank Retaliated By Foreclosing On Her

Elizabeth Jacobson Wells Fargo whistleblowing

Blowing the whistle on your employer will always be a scary proposition for workers.

That can be true even after the whistle-blower leaves the employer. Take the case of loan officer Elizabeth Jacobson, who in 2008 alleged in a lawsuit that Wells Fargo offered bonuses to lenders who targeted blacks in Maryland for subprime mortgages. (Jacobson left the bank in 2007, under "less-than copacetic terms," according to the Baltimore City Paper. Over her career, she was reportedly the bank's top producer of subprime mortgage loans, and even earned a salary of $700,000 in 2004.) The bank never admitted wrongdoing, but in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore did agree to a $175 million settlement for victims and other involved parties this past summer.

And now, according to the Baltimore City News, Jacobson claims Wells Fargo is seeking retribution by trying to take her Maryland home through foreclosure. In a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, she says the bank has returned all seven of the payments that she has paid on a loan for the house, which is located on Maryland's Eastern Shore and has a price tag of $529,000. She's scheduled to face a foreclosure hearing this week. She maintains that the bank violated her "civil rights."

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"I contend they singled me out," she told the Baltimore City Paper. And because of the timing of the incident, she's convinced that the bank went after her residence because of her whistle-blowing. Jacobson says that she was was denied a loan modification five days after "the president of Wells Fargo testified before Congress that he had read my affidavit."

Indeed, during a congressional hearing on June 24, 2010, Wells Fargo Co-President Michael Heid mentioned Jacobson's affidavit from the 2008 lawsuit. Five days after that hearing, Jacobson received word that her application to the Home Affordable Modification program was being denied. Approval under HAMP would have allowed Jacobson to restructure her payment plan.

For its part, Wells Fargo denies singling out Jacobson. In a statement to the City Paper, spokeswoman Vickee Adams said the bank wouldn't comment specifically on the Jacobson case, but did say about bank practices: "We have practiced extremely responsible -- and advocated responsible lending for some time."

Regardless, Jacobson arrived at her 2010 HAMP application with a backlog of financial difficulties. By 2007, Jacobson and her then-husband were busy paying back loans on three houses that they had purchased, including the one in the current dispute. She lost her job that year, and says that she struggles to pay back the loans, which have only gotten worse after the financial crash. And the debt-collection notices soon began piling up, and have included five-figure credit card sums, Jacobson says.

She concedes she's made financial mistakes, saying, "If I would have known [the economy would crash], I would have saved more money."

However Jacobson's case is resolved, it comes at a crucial time. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation has created new protections and financial incentives for whistle-blowers over the past few years.

But 1 in 5 corporate employees who report workplace misconduct will experience some form of workplace retaliation, ranging from harassment to physical violence, according to a report by the Ethical Resource Center, a nonprofit research organization based out of Arlington, Va. And that figure represents an uptick -- the number of retaliation cases reported by workers rose by 2.3 million between 2009 to 2011.

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Well, hells bells - where's the rest of it? Feel sorry for the woman who was tossed from her life long house - but? Wanted to hear more on Jacobson. $700,000 and would've "saved more if I knew the market was gonna tank?" She blow it all on the houses? Husband left her? Wassup with that? Sounds more like a major drug deal went bad on her.

November 10 2012 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't believe everything posted on AOL. Since Obama was a major supporter and contributor of the scammy subprime loan episode, this woman was knowingly an active and gleeful malignant participant in the act of skrewing others. It's highly likely that since she hasn't paid her mortgage, she's now trying to get out of foreclosure by claiming to be a 'victim'. Ya get what ya gave honey. Karma.

November 10 2012 at 6:09 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I am having a hard time summoning pity for this woman. She's a top producer of sub-prime loans. She is paid $700,000 in one year. And then she blows the whistle on Wells Fargo for targeting people to sell them sub-prime loans? I think we're missing some details here.

November 09 2012 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Whoa, she made $700,000 before she grew a conscience??? Better late than never, I guess! This smells a little fishy to me.

November 09 2012 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This is a mess, both of the two parties are shady. She is a wistleblower in a act of revenge. When she made $700,000 dollars a year off of the poor, she was complaining. She bout how many homes? She only made $700,000 that is a very good income but not considered rich.

November 09 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Turn around and suee this sleezy bank for all they're worth.

November 09 2012 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Buckingham's's comment

Sue the woman also.

November 10 2012 at 6:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wells Fargo is known for shady actions. Just try to refinance with them. Even when you are qualified they just dont do it. They need to be investigated and their customers given compensation.

November 09 2012 at 5:56 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to laedbac1's comment

Man, they ALL have to be investigated. I see all these "fines" and "penalties" they pay the States and Feds in "settlements" - but I don't hear of any "person" getting a dime. And they don't admit to anything. Sounds like as long as they cough up the money to the Government - it's all swept under the rugs. Slam their ass in jail is what I'd rather see and admit their guilt. Good enough for Milken (oh, well he just ripped off rich people) then it's good enough for the sleaze ball bankers hosin' down depositors when it was the shareholders they were all concerned about when they had the green back printing press's running at high speed!

November 10 2012 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These are the times you really want a nasty aggressive lawyer.

November 09 2012 at 1:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Banks and Bankers SUCK!

November 08 2012 at 11:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Wells Fargo foreclosed on my home over$175. I owned the home for 16 years. When I tried to rectify it they refused to help me. This bank will never get my money after stripping me of home ownership.

November 08 2012 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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