Since before the days of Ronald Reagan's “welfare queen,” the racist's take on the American minority is often that she is a moocher, a taker of food stamps and “living on the dole.”

The reality, of course, is that life is often harder for American minorities, who sometimes pay more for stuff but get paid less on the job. In 2005 American Honda Finance settled a series of class-action lawsuits because it allegedly charged minority customers more for car loans.

Now it's Wells Fargo's turn at proving why the American Dream still has a different cover charge for people of color:

The U.S. Department of Justice today announced a whopping $125 million dollar settlement with the bank over allegations that its subprime home loan borrowers were charged higher rates as a result of “race or national origin.”

The bank will provide another $50 million as part of the deal for “downpayment assistances to residents of eight metropolitan areas in the U.S. which experienced significant harm as a result of Wells Fargo's conduct,” according to the DOJ's statement.

Yes, two of those areas are right here in Southern California — the foreclosure capital known as the Inland Empire and our own metro L.A.

About 1,300 people in the I.E. are slated to get $3 million worth of down-payment assistance as part of the deal. In L.A. about 4,500 residents will see $10 million in “damages,” the department says.

The feds say the overcharging applied mainly to African Americans and Latinos who “were placed into subprime loans when similarly qualified white retail borrowers received prime loan,” the DOJ's statement reads.

The loans were “not based on borrower risk, but because of their race or national origin,” the department says.

Minorities were given subprime loans when they could have qualified for prime loans, DOJ lawyers alleged. Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division:

Credit: bfishadow

Credit: bfishadow

By reaching a settlement in this case, African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers who received subprime loans when they should have received prime loans or who paid more for their loans will get swift and meaningful relief.

The allegations span 2004 to 2009 and affect nearly 35,000 borrowers, according to the department.

Wells Fargo also agreed to conduct an internal review regarding its lending practices.

If you think some of this settlement money or down-payment compensation should be coming to you, email

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

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