Inner City Press Reporter Beats Inner City Press Books For the Media Fair Finance Watch Contact Us


Bank Beat

Citigroup Watch

Predatory Bender

Freedom of Information

Global Inner Cities

Predatory Bender: A Story of Subprime Finance/Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City

Order fastest here

The Washington Post
March 15, 2004 Monday

SECTION: Financial; E01 HEADLINE: A Novel Approach to Predatory Lending

   The annual Washington meeting of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition isn't usually a load of laughs: Last week's meeting, "Bringing Economic Justice Home," had speakers such as Jesse Jackson and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and featured discussions of predatory lenders and competition-threatening bank mergers. But the opening reception offered a lighter side: New York activist lawyer Matthew Lee hawking "Predatory Bender,'' which he says he believes is the first novel about predatory lending. (It is subtitled, "A Story of Subprime Finance.") In it, a sleazy loan shark for a big New York bank finds a conscience. Turn the book over and you get another 100 pages of an essay on real-life predatory lending.

"In the last 12 months, the term has become much more a part of the national conversation," Lee said in an interview. "You can't always be dry. People's eyes glaze over."
He sold out his 12 books at $19.95 each the first day and had another box shipped in.

The Times (London)
April 15, 2004, Thursday

SECTION: Business; 27 HEADLINE: Novel approach    BYLINE: Dominic Walsh

Matthew Lee, the New York public interest lawyer who gave HSBC such a hard time over its $ 14 billion acquisition of Household International, the sub-prime lender to America's poor, has penned a novel.

The book, Predatory Bender (a pun on predatory lender), has a cast of colorful characters, not least Sandy Vyle, chairman of EmpiGroup, the world's largest bank. Vyle is a foul-mouthed monster, determined to screw the best terms out of his so-called customers.

Under no circumstances is Vyle to be confused with Sandy Weill, chairman of Citigroup, the non-fictional world's biggest bank. "This is a creative work. Resemblances to non-public figures, locales or institutions are coincidental," goes the blurb.

"Critics' Choices for Christmas," by Paul Elie, in Commonweal magazine, December 5, 2003

  "In our time, the equivalent of the Dickensian novel is the well-wrought thriller, and it is through such a book that Matthew Lee now seeks to upbraid corporate society. A one-time Catholic Worker in New York, Lee left St. Joseph's House to 'homestead' abandoned apartments in the South Bronx for the working poor; he went on to earn a law degree, using it first to defend the rights of the people in the neighborhood, then to file lawsuits charging Citigroup and other banks with 'predatory lending.' Now, in his storefront office, he was written a novel featuring a lawyer-agitator much like himself. Predatory Bender is as vivid an account of life in the Bronx as you are likely to read; more than that, it is a brilliant act of subversion, for within the thriller plot is found a dramatic account of the ways corporations prey on the poor while the rest of us aren't looking."

   Order fastest here

The Pittsburgh City Paper of Dec. 11, 2003, says that the "novel Predatory Bender: A Story of Subprime Finance may, in fact, be the first great American lending-malfeasance novel... which simultaneously helps us understand why predatory lending goes on, and why there’s hope that it might be curbed." (Click here for that review).

The American Banker

December 1, 2003, Monday

SECTION: WASHINGTON; Pg. 4    HEADLINE: Washington People

A Novel Dig at Citi

   Who says there's no drama in financial services?  Matthew Lee, general counsel of Inner City Press/Community on the Move, has published a novel titled "Predatory Bender: A Story of Subprime Finance."

  Though the work is fiction (except for a 90-page afterword to the 360-page tale), Mr. Lee draws from his years of challenging bank mergers and lending practices, and appears to blend the images of companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. One section reads: "While ostensibly the fruit of three decades of community struggle, the land beneath the mall was owned by Anguilla-based EmpiBank. The anchor tenant, too, was a part of Empi's empire: a storefront office in the high-rate lender EmpiFinancial. Jack Bender had worked for EmpiBank on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina, the so-called Queen City."

   Hitting his favorite target again, Mr. Lee said Tuesday that his group would fight Citigroup's deal, announced last week, to buy Washington Mutual Inc.'s consumer lending unit.

LOAD-DATE: November 28, 2003

Predatory Bender / Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City

ISBN 0-9740244-1-4, 456 pages, endnotes

Library of Congress Control Number: 2003111283

Price: $19.95, trade paperback, 6 x 9

Available for sale on,,, etc.

Distributed by Ingram Books Contact: 718-716-3540,

    This website has sub-pages on a variety of issues, including a Citgroup Watch, a Bank of America Watch, and more generally, weekly reports on community reinvestment, environmental justice, global / human rights; insurance redlining, telecommunications advocacy, arts and culture. We welcome your suggestions or comments on this website, or on our work. for five different ways to contact us, click here.

      Thank you for your interest.

To order, click here (secure online credit card orders), or call 800-247-6553, or mail payment directly to Inner City Press (address here) -- or (slower), order through (click here, directly to Amazon's Predatory Bender page), or through Powell's Books, or other booksellers.  From Inner City Press, each book is $19.95,  add $3.85 shipping & handling for first book and $1 for each additional book

   A portion of the sales from each copy of this book goes to the Fair Finance Watch, which advocates for consumers' and human rights. So buy it already, why don't you?  Whew...

For ongoing, up-to-the-minute advocacy journalism, click here for Inner City Press, and a map

Off-site:  "New Haven Savings Bank Changes Merit Students' Attention," by Matthew Lee, Yale Daily News, October 23, 2003

Off-site and stuffy: U.S. Banker, May 2001: Federal Reserve - Big Talk, Little Action, (incl. on predatory lending)

On a lighter note, click here to view  poem (doggerel) on Citigroup, "Song of Solomon [Brothers]," on the site...

Campaign Finance Reform in The Bronx (Gotham Gazette, April 3, 2000)

Community Reinvestment Act Weakened by Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (Shelterforce, Dec. 1999)

   Click here for news on Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch campaigns against predators

Inner City Press -- we've written (and published) the book on fighting predatory lending

How to Contact Us     Site Map    Search This Site      For the Media  Inner City Press' Community Reinvestment / Anti-Predatory Lending Reporter   Global Inner Cities   Citigroup Watch - HSBC Watch - GE Watch - JPMorgan Chase Watch - AIG Watch - Wells Fargo WatchInner City Reporter Bank Beat   Inner City Poetry   Community Reinvestment   Environmental Justice Insurance Redlining In the Bronx FCC/Telecommunications About Inner City Press Inner City Arts&Culture Inner City Housing ICP's Freedom of Information Guide Links/Resources Frequently Asked Questions The Inner City Reporter's Federal Reserve Beat Privacy Policy   Inner City Public Interest Law Center Fair Finance Watch - Human Rights Enforcement Project

Copyright 2003 Inner City Press/Community on the Move, Inc.   Phone: (718) 716-3540.  Fax: (718) 716-3161.  E-mail: Books [at]

These pages copyright 1999 - 2003 Inner City Press/Community on the Move, Inc. and Inner City Public Interest Law Center.   All rights reserved.  For further information, or to request reprint or other permission, contact: Permissions Coordinator, Legal Administration, Inner City Press, P.O. Box 580188, Mount Carmel Station, Bronx, NY 10458.  Phone: (718) 716-3540.  Fax: (718) 716-3161.  E-mail: mlee [at]