|Subprime Mortgage Company Robbed
Masked man used fake pipe bomb at First Franklin
January 6, 2006
|The masked man who entered the Clemson, S.C., office of a subprime mortgage company on Dec. 6 didn’t want a mortgage loan. But he was after money.Police say the man, who was carrying either a rifle or shotgun and what he said was a pipe bomb, robbed First Franklin Co.’s branch office of an undetermined amount of cash.
He even took the money and cell phones of the employees working that day, Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon and Capt. Robert Griffin told MortgageDaily.com.
“He had a white hooded mask with two eyeholes,” Dixon said in the interview. “We still haven’t found him.”
Police think the same man pulled off similar robberies at two other locations in the area.
First Franklin is a privately-held Georgia-based mortgage and consumer with branches located throughout the Southeast. Most of its mortgage loans are for first and second subprime mortgages, according to documents the company has filed with federal regulators and posted on its Web site.
Most of the company’s income comes from short-term consumer loans. Customers apparently pay installments in cash, which is why money was located in the Clemson office.
Of the $66.1 million in loans the company made last year just $4.8 million were mortgage loans, according to the company’s annual report.
“First and second mortgage loans on real estate are made to homeowners who wish to improve their property or who wish to restructure their financial obligations,” the company said. “We generally make loans in amounts of $3,000 to $50,000 on maturities of 35 to 180 months.”
A woman who answered the phone at the Clemson office said employees were instructed by the “home office” not to talk about the robbery.
Specific information about the Clemson operation is not included in the company’s financial reports.
Chief Dixon said police have determined that the robber is a white male. On the day of the robbery he walked into the First Franklin office and demanded money.
Along with the gun, the man had what Dixon described as a piece of white PVC pipe.
“He laid it on the counter and said it had enough explosives in the device to take out two city blocks,” the chief said.
Workers gave the man the money. He then made the two employees in the office sit on the floor before robbing them of their “personal money” and cell phones, Griffin said.
After the man fled and police were notified, the Anderson County Bomb Squad was called. It determined the device was not a bomb, Dixon said.
“It was made to look like a bomb,” he said. “But it was just a pipe filled with sand.”
Patrick Crowley is a MortgageDaily.com feature journalist and blogger, and a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]