The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is cracking down on real estate kickbacks, ordering Texas home builder Paul Taylor to surrender $118,194 in funds earned through unlawful referral fees. Through alliances with Benchmark Bank and Willow Bend Mortgage Co., Taylor founded and jointly owned Stratford Mortgage Services, which advertised itself as a mortgage originator; Taylor and Willow Bend also established and jointly controlled PTH Mortgage. The CFPB says each of these entities were in fact "shams designed to allow Taylor to receive the kickbacks." Taylor's homebuilding firm then referred mortgage origination business to these entities, according to the CFPB, while the work as actually carried out by Benchmark Bank and Willow Bend. The kickbacks were then passed via the entities back to Taylor through profit distributions and as a payment through a "service agreement." CFPB director Richard Cordray declared, "Kickbacks harm consumer by hampering fair market competition and by unnecessarily increasing the costs of getting a mortgage. The CFPB will continue to take action against schemes designed to let service providers profit through unscrupulous and illegal business practices."