Freedom "never made diligent inquiry into her then ability to make the loan payments going forward," Escala wrote. "As demonstrated here, defendant defaulted within a few months. Such default so soon after making the loan suggests her then financial frailty."
The case comes five years after the housing bubble collapsed, ending an era when lenders approved home loans with little regard to the borrowers' income, credit score and other obvious indicators of their ability to repay.
Major's refinancing had all of the tell-tale signs.
The court documents said:
*Major, then 70, worked at
*Freedom approved the loan without a new appraisal. Freedom obtained none of Major's tax returns. And Freedom didn't order a credit report.
*Freedom charged almost
Escala ruled that the Freedom violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. He said Freedom still can foreclose. But he ordered the company to forfeit its fees and interest it made on the loan and to pay Major more than
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