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Suit alleges banks and mortgage companies cheated veterans and U.S. taxpayers

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Dept. of Veterans AffairsA whistleblower suit unsealed in federal court in Atlanta on Monday alleges that some of the nation’s largest banks and mortgage companies have cheated military veterans and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars by hiding illegal fees in veterans’ home loan refinancing.

The suit accuses the companies, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage, of engaging in “a brazen scheme to defraud both our nation’s veterans and the United States treasury” of millions of dollars in connection with home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The case involves refinanced loans that are available to retired or active-duty veterans on homes they already own. The program is aimed at giving veterans the opportunity to lower their interest rates or shorten the terms of existing home mortgages.

“This is a massive fraud on the American taxpayers and American veterans,” said co-lead counsel in the case, James E. Butler Jr., one of the lawyers bringing the suit.

The whistleblower suit seeks to recover damages and civil penalties on behalf of the U.S. government. The Justice Department has notified the U.S. District Court that it is not taking over the case but is reserving the right to intervene at a later date, according to court papers.

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