May 09, 2008
Help Wanted

In all the coverage of the subprime mortgage mess, there has been a key element missing: the sales pitch.

This is where the rubber meets the road, where the actual swindle goes down, where the trap snaps shut and the sucker is held fast till he can be skinned alive. It is the Glengarry Glen Ross moment.

We must understand these moments when we listen to the head hogs ó Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, Citicorp, AIG and the other giant loan sharks ó as they whine that the whole disaster is all the fault of deadbeat borrowers who should have known better.

And these moments are all committed to paper somewhere, except I donít know how to get my hands on it. So Iím asking for help. Does anybody out there know somebody who was or is involved with a subprime mortgage outfit?

These moneylenders donít just send their high-pressure sales force into battle unprepared. Like any other high-pressure sales outfit, mortgage brokers must use work sheets, talking points, training manuals and even scripts. These are to be followed, sometimes word for word. Thatís what it means when the voice on the phone says, ďThis conversation may be recorded for training purposes?Ē

Every reasonable objection the prospect may raise has been anticipated, and a suitably deceptive answer prepared. Every evasion and obfuscation and misdirection has been scripted. And Iíd like to put this stuff on the internet where it belongs ó not to expose or embarrass any individual, but to expose the shabby trickery of the foundation upon which the huge banking firms are built.

The most likely source for such documentation, it seems to me, would be a remorseful or disgruntled former employee of a mortage broker who hasnít bothered to throw out the old scripts and manuals.

Do you know any such person? I would offer him or her, and you, complete anonymity of course. Written backwards, my phone number is 0075793068. In the same way, I can be reached on line here: moc.liamg@elttilood.emorej



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 09, 2008 08:36 PM
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the closest I've seen is the Chase Zippy Tricks memo:

Posted by: lutton on May 9, 2008 8:58 PM

Thanks, lutton. In a sense it's big boys playing with other big boys, with winks and nods and everybody in more or less the same game, though. What I'm hoping to dig up is evidence of how the game is played between nonequals -- the sharpie convincing some financial innocent to take on more debt than he knows, or could possibly handle. Or conning some poor schlub into the subprime market when he/she could have qualified for a much less costly loan. I keep being reminded, reading all these stories, of my youthful days as the worst door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman in Connecticut, and very possibly the whole continental United States. We all knew that the poorer the customer, the easier it was to trick her into the most expensive model. And once you had your (very large, percentage-wise) commission in hand, it didn't matter to you if the customer couldn't pay the monthly installments down the road. That was Electrolux's problem, just as the subprime meltdown is going to be ours.

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 10:38 PM

Yesterday's segment by the "This American Life" people, aired on "All Things Considered," isn't exactly what you want but has moments of it, and it's a good listen.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on May 10, 2008 1:07 PM
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