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Susan Leonard’s Improper Foreclosure Rescinded by Bank of America

May 1, 2012 1 comment

We are happy to report that Susan Leonard’s improper foreclosure has been rescinded by Bank of America. Thanks to all who supported Susan by signing our Change.org petition and thanks to Bank of America for doing the right thing.

Matt Taibbi: Bank of America Is a “Raging Hurricane of Theft and Fraud”

March 29, 2012 2 comments

From TruthOut.org:

There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.

The first is that it’s corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.

The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it’s a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers.

But Bank of America hasn’t gone out of business, for the simple reason that our government has decided to make it the poster child for the “Too Big To Fail” concept. Because it is considered a “systemically important institution” whose collapse would have a major, Lehman-Brothers-style impact on the economy, two consecutive presidential administrations have taken extraordinary measures to keep Bank of America in business, despite a staggering recent legacy of corruption schemes, many of which were simply overlooked by regulators.

This is why the question of whether or not Bank of America should remain on public life support is so critical to all Americans, and not just those millions who have the misfortune to be customers of the bank, or own shares in the firm, or hold mortgages serviced by the company. This gigantic financial institution is the ultimate symbol of a new kind of corruption at the highest levels of American society: a tendency to marry the near-limitless power of the federal government with increasingly concentrated, increasingly unaccountable private financial interests.

The inevitable result of that new form of corruption is this bank, whose continued, state-supported existence should naturally outrage all Americans, be they conservative or progressive.

Moreover, Bank of America has ruthlessly preyed upon millions of homeowners, throwing them out on the street on the strength of doctored, “robosigned” paperwork created through brazenly illegal practices they helped pioneer — the firm sped struggling families to foreclosure court using perjured affidavits produced in factory-like fashion by the hundreds or thousands every day, with full knowledge of management. Through the firm’s improper use of an unaccountable private electronic mortgage registry system called MERS, it also systematically evaded millions of dollars in local fees, forcing some communities to cut services and raise property taxes.

Even when caught and punished for its crimes by the authorities, Bank of America has repeatedly ignored court orders. It was one of five companies identified in two separate investigations earlier this year that were caught continuing the practice of robosigning, even after promising to stop in a legally binding consent decree. Last summer, the state of Nevada sought to terminate a settlement over mortgage abuses it had entered into with Bank of America after it found the company was brazenly violating the agreement, among other things raising payments and interest rates on mortgage customers, despite the fact that the settlement only allowed them to modify loans downward.

Over and over again, we see that leveling fines and punishments at this bank is not enough: it simply ignores them. It is the very definition of an unaccountable corporate villain.

Read More Here: Matt Taibbi: Bank of America Is a “Raging Hurricane of Theft and Fraud”.

Gregory Mackler, Whistleblower, Says Bank Of America Defrauded HAMP

March 8, 2012 3 comments

From Huffington Post:

The complaint unsealed Wednesday was filed by whistleblower Gregory Mackler, a Colorado resident who said he worked alongside Bank of America executives while an employee at Urban Lending Solutions, a company to which Bank of America contracted some of its HAMP work.

While working at Urban Lending, Mackler said he saw BofA and its loan servicing subsidiary, BAC Homes Loans Servicing LP, implement “business practices designed to intentionally prevent scores of eligible homeowners from becoming eligible or staying eligible for permanent HAMP modification.”

The bank and its agents routinely pretended to have lost homeowners’ documents, failed to credit payments during trial modifications and intentionally misled homeowners about their eligibility for the program, the complaint alleged.

BoA let through just enough HAMP modifications to avert suspicion and allay congressional critics, while not enough to incur any substantial losses to its own bottom line, according to the complaint.

“In other words, BoA has had it both ways. BoA has continued to maximize the value of its mortgage portfolio with anti-HAMP modification practices and managed to make money by committing fraud on homeowner,” the lawsuit said.

A lawyer for Mackler could neither confirm nor deny that the complaint was tied to the settlement. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office and a representative for Bank of America declined to comment.

Read the Entire Article: Gregory Mackler, Whistleblower, Says Bank Of America Defrauded HAMP.

Rebecca McClellan’s Painful Bank of America Experience

March 5, 2012 3 comments

The following story is about HSITrust client, Rebecca McClellan’s quest to have her mortgage modified by Bank of America. I’m sure her story will resonate with many of our readers.

My name is Rebecca McClellan. Like many others, I am a struggling homeowner. In 2008, the market began to crash and my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer. The doctors at Stanford were not optimistic about his survival chances. He was unable to continue working. I struggled on, overwhelmed by the prospect of losing my life partner and trying to tend to his mounting needs. He needed to be taken weekly for 6 hour chemo-therapy sessions and doctor appointments at Stanford; each time a 3 hour round trip drive. We went from a two income family to me being our sole support, barely making our mortgage payments while trying to be a rock of support for his situation.

The government announced the first of several modification programs that applied to people like us, who needed help, an adjustment of our interest rate, maybe even a lowering of our principal down to the level that the house would be worth to the bank if they sold it. I began calling Bank of America to talk about a modification and was, on virtually every call, routed back to the front desk of the “Have a Heart” desk where they claimed they were taking and processing loan modification requests. Every time that I called, I had to re-explain my story. The people who answered the phone didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, much less what they were doing. I sent hardship letters and I sent new budgets to them every several weeks, each time at their request, and each time that I called up the front desk, again, to find out my status from the person at the front desk who had no idea what was going on, I was, usually after 30 minutes on the phone waiting, told that they couldn’t find my paperwork and I should resubmit it. I was told again to submit an application and to write a “hardship” letter about my husband’s condition. I did so immediately.

I talked to Sumat Jain in Home Retention, who told me to call back in October. In October I talked to Greg Knox. Then I talked to Joyce in home Retention who would not give me her last name. Then I talked to Carol on the “Heart Team” who couldn’t find our package. Then she found them, said it was being processed and I should call back at the end of November. In December Cindi Bustamante from the “Heart Team” called to ask why I hadn’t signed the loan mod papers and then began an investigation into why I hadn’t received the papers. Did these phantom papers even exist? Then I talked to Donna, Karen, Cindi, again, and was told I would be contacted by Monique, a supervisor. Monique never called me.

The next day I talked to Tamara who transferred me back to the “Hope Team”. Natasha in the “Hope Team” told me that my loan mod was, actually, still in review. Then I talked to Dave and John, Dave’s supervisor. My next call put me in India and they transferred my call to Gabriel in customer Service and then he transferred me to Josh, another supervisor. Josh said he was going to escalate the mod request and I got transferred to India, again and then to Jessica. Then I talked to Patrick who announced that they had closed my file and returned it to “normal” status. Then I talked to Nikee Woods, a negotiator. Then I talked to Hugh and then Lydia. Then I talked to Ansenija, another supervisor, who was going to call me back but didn’t because she was “too busy doing other things” she told me later. Then I talked to Shannon and Tierra and then Michael who, out of the clear blue, announced that I had a pending modification on my second, even though I had been told we were only working on my first and we would work on my second after the first was resolved. Then I talked to Adrian Woods, another negotiator, who announced that my loan app had been cancelled. Then Margaret from Making Home Affordable called up and put me through to Mykie Vyas.

These exchanges went on for two years with virtually no resolution of our situation. We finally ran out of money and stopped making our mortgage payments. Within one month of not making the first payment, Bank of America started calling us instead of us trying to get them to even talk to us. I got calls from Tamika, Nathan, Adrian, Suzanne in India, Maria, Ebony, David and Adam, an assistant supervisor who told me that my loan modification app had been cancelled, and Aron from India. Then I got calls from Shannon, Tierra, and Michael. Then Adrian Vargas called back to say that I would deal only with him and that they couldn’t find our file and that I should resubmit everything. Then I talked to a supervisor in India, Stephen and then I talked to Adrian Vargas’ supervisor.

Next, I received a letter from Bank of America, no name, saying that our mod had been turned down because our ratios were too high. I knew, from many conversations with independent mortgage brokers, that our ratios were not too high. Adrian Vargas of Bank of America told me to appeal, because he agreed with me.

Then I talked to Danny and Vanessa who told me to talk to Gwen Hall, the underwriter. Then I talked to Arlene who said there was nothing new to discuss and then I talked to Robert who acknowledged that my ratios were below the 31% ratio and that I did, indeed, qualify. Then I talked to Chris who said he was starting the whole process over. At this point I was assigned to Gwen Hall as my permanent Loan Representative in the process. I also got a letter warning me that I was delinquent and that they would start foreclosure proceedings.

Even though Adrian Vargas had assured me that nothing would happen while they were working on this, Gwen said they were going to start foreclosure proceedings but she assured me that they would not publish a sale date while the negotiations were going on. Within a month I was given a new “permanent” rep, Kyete Meyers. Then on Christmas Eve we came home to find notices tacked on our front door announcing a sale date for 2 weeks later. I tried to call Kyete but her phone didn’t work so I called her manager, Joseph Smith and he never returned my call. Then Kyete Meyers started asking for all my documents, again. Five days before the sale date they postponed the sale for one month. Since then, they have done it once more, again asking for the same documents they had in their possession since mid 2008.

It is now March, 2012. My husband is in remission from cancer but his long term survival prognosis is still an open question. That aside, chemo significantly damaged his heart and he is on a variety of heart medicines for the rest of his life and unable to work. I continue to work 12 hour days. I am still employed in a management position by the same Fortune 500 Company and I/we meet all of the criteria set forth in all the Federal government guidelines for a modification.

These guidelines, designed to put the real estate industry back on its feet, to stem the glut of foreclosed houses depressing the values of all the rest of the houses, and to give millions of us a renewed, ongoing stake in the American dream. The banks have signed agreements with the Federal government to support the unraveling of housing market crisis. But banks want to wash their hands of this part of their commitment. They prefer, instead, to leverage their capital, the money they are borrowing from the Federal government at 0%, in order to loan the money back to the Federal government at 3.5%, buying T-Bills.

My husband and I are, again, facing a Trustees Sale on our house on March 14, 2012. The Trustee, again, is ReconTrust, a company that is required by law to have a fiduciary responsibility to both Bank of America and to us; a company that is a wholly owned part of Bank of America.

I think it is important to note that I agree with Bank of America on one thing; that there are rules and that we need to play by those rules.

My problem with the Bank of America is its policy that only rules to acknowledge are those that put the homeowner in jeopardy. Even if I don’t like some of the rules, obviously, I am trying to play by all of them, all the same. The banks, clearly, don’t like other rules. Bank of America does not believe that they need, also, to play by all the rules. Rules about processing loan modification applications, rules about mortgage documentation, rules about foreclosure and due process and rules about fiduciary responsibility, notification and integrity are all rules that Bank of America has chosen to ignore. The banks do not want to be inconvenienced by these rules.

No one can tell me that having 40 or more people in 4 different programs, with 3 different “permanent” loan process representatives in 5 different states, in 2 different countries over a period of 3 years, over one mortgage, with an unpublished set of rules and arbitrary decisions with no accountability isn’t designed, with intent, to deter anyone from asking for fair or, at a minimum, due process. To call these programs “Have a Heart”, “Hope Team” “Making Homes Affordable” or even “Home Retention” is a slap in our collective face that crosses the line from the absurd to the Kafkaesque.

Make banks play by the same rules that they are reasonably demanding of us.

 

 

For Mortgage Servicers, an Incentive Not to Help Homeowners – NYTimes.com

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

This is an article from 2009 that explains why banks keep homeowners in seemingly never ending trial modifications. This is what happened to Susan Leonard and Michele Varney who were both granted trial modifications with Bank of America.

But industry insiders and legal experts say the limited capacity of mortgage companies is not the primary factor impeding the government’s $75 billion program to prevent foreclosures. Instead, it is that many mortgage companies are reluctant to give strapped homeowners a break because the companies collect lucrative fees on delinquent loans.

Even when borrowers stop paying, mortgage companies that service the loans collect fees out of the proceeds when homes are ultimately sold in foreclosure. So the longer borrowers remain delinquent, the greater the opportunities for these mortgage companies to extract revenue — fees for insurance, appraisals, title searches and legal services.

“It frustrates me when I see the government looking to the servicer for the solution, because it will never ever happen,” said Margery Golant, a Florida lawyer who defends homeowners against foreclosure and who worked in the law department of a major mortgage company, Ocwen Financial. “I don’t think they’re motivated to do modifications at all. They keep hitting the loan all the way through for junk fees. It’s a license to do whatever they want.”

For Mortgage Servicers, an Incentive Not to Help Homeowners – NYTimes.com.

How Banks Put Homeowners in More Jeopardy

February 14, 2012 2 comments

We’ve started a petition for Susan Leonard because she is an excellent example of how banks put homeowners in more jeopardy.We hear different variations of Susan’s story every day.

Susan had surgery, missed time at work which reduced her income. Following her illness she was laid off from her job. She was able to find another job, but the pay is lower which reduced her income significantly.  Susan applied for a Homes Affordable Modification with Bank of America and was approved for a trial modification. She was told if she made the three trial payments on time she would be considered for a permanent loan modification.

After completing the trial plan Susan inquired with Bank of America and was told that she was approved for the permanent modification, but because the program was so popular they were having a difficult time getting the permanent loan modification packages out to homeowners. Susan was told to continue to make the trial payment amount each month. Bank of America deceived and mislead Susan into believing she had been approved for a permanent modification for 25 months! She made her 26th payment, but Bank of America sent it back to her and told Susan her home was in foreclosure. On December 21, 2011 her home was sold at auction.

Susan has a very modest home with a $88,000 mortgage. She is a hard working American who wants to pay her mortgage.  But Susan’s mortgage had PMI – that’s mortgage insurance. Bank of America would much rather collect on the mortgage insurance policy than work with Susan to keep her in her home. Bank of America put Susan in more jeopardy by leading her to believe that the 26 month trial modification would lead to a permanent modification and then later demanding the arrears. With a reduced income and the belief that she would be paying the new modified payment for the life of the loan, she could not possibly pay the past due amount that Bank of America claimed she owed. Bank of America set her up to fail!

Unfortunately, Susan’s story is not unique.This is happening to homeowners across the country. It’s by far the most common story HSITrust hears from homeowners.

Join us in demanding that Bank of America rescind this wrongful foreclosure and discontinue unfair and deceptive practices against homeowners. Please sign our petition for Susan Leonard.

Help us create change!

Financial Sector Leads Brands With Plunging Reputations: Harris Poll

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Bank of America mired in negative publicity for improper foreclosure activity and debit card fees.

 

Financial Sector Leads Brands With Plunging Reputations: Harris Poll.