On May 26, the CFPB announced a consent order against a former mortgage loan originator of a San Francisco-based bank for allegedly violating Section 8(a) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The CFPB alleges that, from at least November 2013 through February 2015, the loan officer and an escrow company in California “engaged in a scheme in which they manipulated escrow fees, at [the loan officer’s] direction, by shifting them among loans in order to structure no-cost mortgage transactions.” The CFPB further contends that the loan officer referred settlement-services business for federally related mortgages to the escrow company in exchange for allowing him to dictate the escrow fees. According to the CFPB, the arrangement between the loan officer and the escrow company constituted providing a “thing of value” – prohibited under RESPA – because it allowed the officer to consistently deliver “no closing cost” loans to his clients, which “ultimately increased the number of loans he was able to close and, as a result, the commissions he earned.” The CFPB’s consent order imposes an $85,000 civil penalty and prohibits the loan officer from participating in the mortgage industry for one year.