Over the weekend, on June 14, 2013, several sources including ProPublica and Huffington Post released stories on the most recent instance of Bank of America foreclosure fraud. Former employees of the “too big to fail” bank have testified in a Massachusetts court case that Bank of America routinely defrauded distressed homeowners and abused the foreclosure process to increase bank profits. The testimony of six former Bank of America employees disclosed that the culture at Bank of America was to force homeowners into foreclosure, even when they qualified for assistance under HAMP to stay in their homes.
This comes as no surprise to us at Soboleski Law, as we are banging our heads on brick walls daily when we submit a HAMP application to BOA that fits into all of the guidelines, and it is continually denied or otherwise just sits “under review” for months on end, only to be later declined for “lack of documentation” or some other lame excuse. The fraud that the BOA employees revealed is something we always expected and now we have validation that Bank of America was intentionally forcing struggling homeowners into foreclosure. To make a bad story worse, it was also revealed that Bank of America employees were given cash bonuses and gift cards to Target and other retail stores if they met their quota of sending a certain amount of homeowners into foreclosure in any given month. If employees followed HAMP guidelines and got homeowners approved for the government program aimed at helping struggling homeowners, they were reprimanded and sometimes even fired. We saw this practice first hand. On occasion, when we got someone helpful at BOA, we would be so thankful and then the next time we called back, that representative had been “reassigned”.
You see, the HAMP program would usually yield a modified interest rate of as low as 2% for the homeowner. But, if Bank of America could deny the homeowner from HAMP and push them into an in-house modification at 5%, the homeowner would usually still take the deal – and BOA would make an extra 3% – even though the homeowner really qualified for relief under HAMP. This was a calculated bait-and-switch game of epic proportions to increase the bank’s profits.
According to the testimony, Bank of America would perform what they called “blitz” audits of pending loan modification files, and deny each and every account that had an application pending for more than 60 days. So, if a so-called “loan specialist” would let an application sit on their desk (or floor) for 60 days, the paperwork became “stale”, and the applicant could be denied. Practically, we see this happen every day. Our clients’ average time of review for a HAMP application can range from 45 days to 6 months, even over a year. Our clients are doing their best to put together the necessary materials to apply for a loan modification – which basically amounts to what you have to do to file your annual taxes, just to have it sit around at the bank and then ultimately “blitzed” (or discarded) without ever being considered or even viewed by a human being. Then our clients have to start all over again. Or sometimes, it is too late. If the denial, or “blitz”, happens while they are in active foreclosure, that may allow the foreclosure to go forward and may lead to the loss of their home. Bank of America is not the only culprit either – other banks do the same thing with the equally disastrous results.
This newest revelation of Bank of America foreclosure fraud squarely meets the requirements of a North Carolina “Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practice” (UDTPA) and common law fraud, and we have filed several of these cases around the state based on this exact conduct. Our previous post on Dual Tracking discussed this conduct in detail. This recent news that former employees of Bank of America have come forward invigorates us at Soboleski Law to keep fighting the good fight against foreclosure abuses and continuing to help struggling homeowners. We urge everyone out there not to give up, and to continue to fight to save their homes. We also urge our legislature to make such acts illegal and even criminal, and that such abuses should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We applaud members of Congress like Elizabeth Warren who fight for Consumer Rights and press the banks and regulators to answer for their actions. There are so many more of us who want justice and fair play – but unless our voices are heard, the corporations will continue to adopt a too-big-to-fail approach. We are all in this fight together.
If you feel that you are a victim of Bank of America foreclosure fraud, contact us at 828-285-8888, or fill out our online form to have one of our foreclosure defense attorneys review your claim. We look forward to fighting for you.