ATLANTA (AP/WAOK) – Three Georgia counties are suing a British bank, claiming that predatory lending harmed property owners as the housing market collapsed.

Officials say that Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties filed the lawsuit Thursday against London-based HSBC in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The lawsuit alleges that HSBC and its affiliates abused minority borrowers by putting them into mortgages they couldn’t afford, or gouging consumers with high-priced loans and high fees when they might have qualified for cheaper mortgages.

Officials say the lawsuit is likely unprecedented in Georgia. It was filed under the federal Fair Housing Act and seeks unspecified damages

A spokesman for HSBC in New York did not immediately return a message seeking comment from the Journal-Constitution.

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