Report: WaMu rewarded employees who pushed dangerous mortgages

By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

In the fall of 2006, Washington Mutual was so determined to push its riskiest mortgages on customers that it created a football-themed employee bonus “blitz,” offering “touchdown” incentives for every sale of a pick-a-payment loan.

A non-prime loan was a “field goal” in the game to win a $1,000 gift card at the expense of home buyers who were purposefully steered away from fixed-rate, 30-year mortgages.

The campaign to sell high-risk loans, which contributed to the 2008 demise of the nation’s sixth-largest bank, is outlined in a 650-page report released last week by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Florida is mentioned repeatedly in the report. Washington Mutual’s loan sales were concentrated in the state, which ultimately suffered above-average home value depreciation.

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