COLUMBIA, S.C. - State NAACP leader Lonnie Randolph said Wednesday that mortgage relief plans should be helping those already damaged by subprime lending standards he called fraudulent and racially discriminatory.

African-Americans are following the rules of hard work and thrift to achieve the American dream of home ownership, but they have been placed in high-cost subprime loans at higher rates than whites with similar qualifications, he said.

"The American dream for too many African-Americans is the American nightmare," Randolph said at a news conference at NAACP's South Carolina headquarters.

The event followed the national organization's filing of an amended class-action lawsuit in Federal District Court in Los Angeles Tuesday alleging violation of the federal Fair Housing, Equal Credit Opportunity and Civil Rights acts by 12 national lenders.

"These lenders target the African-American community by capitalizing on their relative lack of experience in dealing with banking institutions and mortgage loans," the suit says.

Lenders have denied the allegations, saying they monitor their practices to ensure fairness.

The suit, filed in July, cites a 2006 study by the Center for Responsible Lending that found that blacks were more than 31 percent more likely to be sold a high-cost subprime loan than white borrowers with similar income and credit histories.

The suit asks the court to order the banks to stop the alleged discriminatory policies, require banks to hire more minorities, train employees about racial fairness and compensate those damaged by the inappropriate loans.

The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday stricter lending rules that will prohibit the kind of subprime loans that often led families to foreclosure. *