Whistleblower accuses CFPB of fraud

A former employee of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has come forward with accusations of fraud against the agency.

A former employee of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has come forward with accusations of fraud against the agency.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the employee called for a formal investigation after she named specific bureau leaders who directly asked her to falsify documents in an investigation and then retaliated against her when she refused.

The employee, Cassandra Jackson, was an examiner in the bureau’s southwest division. She was assigned to a CFPB investigation of a Texas-based payday lending company, Ace Cash Express. That investigation resulted in a consent order that required the company to offer $5 million in refunds and pay a $5 million fine into the bureau’s Civil Penalty Fund.

Jackson alleges that her initial investigation revealed little to no wrongdoing on the part of Ace. However, she claims that she was asked to remove document evidence proving Ace was complying with CFPB rules and to write a report including findings she knew to be false.

“During the course of this examination, I was asked to change, remove, and otherwise falsify documents connected with this examination,” Jackson said. When her initial report was rejected by her superiors, she “was specifically told to cite Ace Cash Express for a violation for which I had verified the company was in compliance and to state that Ace Cash Express did not provide, and that the CFPB did not receive, documents that would have satisfied the CFPB’s guidelines, despite having received that information from Ace Cash Express,” Jackson said.

Jackson refused to follow management’s orders and said she was retaliated against for not falsifying the report. Managers then “proceeded to modify the report” and pursue enforcement against Ace though Jackson said her report “did not find significant violations by the lender.” Jackson said after refusing to falsify records, managers informed her she was “not performing” at grade level and subjected to disciplinary action. Jackson said she was ultimately forced out of the CFPB due to an “incredibly hostile work environment and the retaliation I continued to receive from management at the CFPB due to the Ace Cash Express incident.”

The letter, dated December 6 but released later that month by the U.S. Consumer Coalition, urged the attorney general “to initiate an investigation into this matter, as well as civil rights violations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” Jackson said. “During my nearly five years at the bureau, I encountered widespread racism and gender discrimination from management.”