ORANGE, Calif. - The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now said it plans to picket Ameriquest Mortgage Co. offices in 20 cities today, protesting what it said were predatory lending practices.

In a press statement, Acorn said Ameriquest, a former unit of Long Beach Financial Corp., Orange, Calif., is "targeting lower-income and minority borrowers for high-rate loans and deceptive practices."

Ameriquest declined to comment. Long Beach paid a $4 million settlement in 1996 after a Department of Justice investigation into predatory lending practices. Long Beach spun off Ameriquest in April 1997.

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