Foul Called After UWM Announces Partnership With NBA, WNBA

By KIMBERLEY HAAS

Hunterbrook Media and its publisher are sounding the alarm after a promotional partnership between United Wholesale Mortgage and the National Basketball Association was announced.

On Thursday, leaders at UWM and NBA Communications issued a press release that said a multiyear U.S. partnership was established between the company’s consumer-facing brand, Mortgage Matchup, the NBA, and the WNBA. This marks the first-ever mortgage partnership for both leagues.

As part of the deal, Mortgage Matchup “will collaborate with the leagues on marketing and promotional activities to expand the reach of its platform, raising awareness around the benefits of partnering with a mortgage broker and making it easier for fans to access the resources they need when purchasing or refinancing a home.”

UWM’s CEO Mat Ishbia bought the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury for $4 billion in February 2023. His rival, Dan Gilbert, is the founder of Rocket Mortgage and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hunterbrook Media posted its reaction to the partnership news on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday.

A report released by the start-up on April 2 linked UWM to $39 billion in mortgages sent to the lender by brokers who worked as loyalists, sending more than 99% of their business to the company.

Hunterbrook agreed to help the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP explore a class action racketeering lawsuit against UWM, which was filed the same day as the report was released.

An image from that lawsuit was used on X, with a message that said, in part, “A reminder on how Mortgage Matchup works.” It showed a portion of the lawsuit’s complaint that claims UWM uses the website to steer borrowers to brokers who do the most business with them.

“Asked to comment on the allegations facing UWM as part of our initial investigation, the NBA declined. UWM returned our request for comment with a cease and desist,” Hunterbrook posted.

Publisher Sam Koppelman, who contributed to the report, also commented on the partnership deal on X, saying Ishbia will be paying “for the NBA to advertise UWM’s allegedly fraudulent website.”

The Mortgage Note reached out to Koppelman.

“If you read the federal RICO fraud lawsuit centered around UWM and Mortgage Matchup, you’ll see how dangerous this partnership could be to American homebuyers,” Koppelman said.

When asked what he meant by saying the partnership is dangerous, Koppelman referred The Mortgage Note to the class action suit.

According to the complaint, UWM borrowers are on the hook for billions of dollars in excessive fees and costs because the lender used tactics to get brokers to abandon their duties to their clients and funnel more mortgages to the company. Rankings on Mortgage Matchup is one example of how that was accomplished.

Racketeering is alleged because lawyers for the plaintiffs say UWM orchestrated a fraudulent scheme using bribery and engaged in a pattern of conduct that involved misrepresenting material facts.

Using Mortgage Matchup and its predecessor website, findamortgagebroker.com, UWM “published false and misleading advertisements and information about the relationship between UWM and brokers, as well as about brokers’ purported duty to shop for the best prices on behalf of the Plaintiffs. These advertisements were intentionally deceptive,” according to the complaint.

In addition to the report they released in April and their contributions to the class action claim, Hunterbrook has reported that an executive at UWM helped a shell company establish Philadelphia-based UMortgage.

Hunterbrook is comprised of two entities: a website that publishes reports based on publicly available data and a hedge fund. Hunterbrook Capital makes trades based on stories it uncovers through Hunterbrook Media.

They have disclosed placing a short position on UWM and a long position on Rocket Mortgage.

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