New post on Livinglies’s Weblog
New post on Livinglies’s Weblog
Eric Schneiderman: Banks Have ‘Confidence’ That Law Enforcement Is Not Taking Violations ‘Seriously’
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. —
A metro Atlanta consumer attorney said he has already been able to halt a dozen foreclosures using a new ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals.
The latest case involves a Forsyth County home and lending giant Wells Fargo.
“Having to move out of the dream home that my son and I built is the worst thing I could think of,” said homeowner David Stripland.
The recession hit his car
dealership around the same time the housing crisis, cutting his home’s value more than 60 percent.
“You can’t sell it, you can’t re-fi, you have to get a modification,” said his
The Striplands said the process went on for more than a year. They then received a string of foreclosure notices from Wells Fargo.
“Foreclosure. It’s a shame,” said
Paulette through a stream of tears.
The foreclosure has now been halted, after a recent ruling by the state appellate court.
Wells Fargo does not hold the note. It only services the loan. The note holder is not clearly stated.
The Striplands paid forensic auditors who found the loan has been divided up into dozens of securities sold to investors.
“Once these notes are chopped up and turned into bonds, securities, whatever; who really owns
it?” asked their attorney, Bob Thompson.
But the Georgia Court of Appeals ruling in a case involving a Cobb County family and servicers Provident Funding, LLC, ruled homeowners have “a right to know” to whom they actually owe the money, lest they be “misled or confused.”
“Even a dog in Georgia has the right to know who’s kicking him,” Emory law professor Frank Alexander told Channel 2’s reporting partners at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“These big banks and Wall Street have to follow the law of the land, just like I do,” said
Channel 2’s Jim Strickland learned just before 5 p.m. Thursday, Wells Fargo had halted the foreclosure.
Thompson said most homeowners in peril should take action on their own.
Call and get it stopped and get yourself some time, because with time most people can work things out,” he said.
It is likely Provident will appeal to the state supreme court.
Federal Judge Magner: Wells Fargo’s Behavior “Highly Reprehensible”
Does anyone know what’s happened at Wells Fargo Bank? If so, please let the rest of us know, because in a line up of TBTF bank CEOs, to stand out as being particularly awful is no easy task… and yet Wells Fargo’s CEO, John Stumpf has risen to the challenge and then some.
At the beginning of April of this year, Judge Elizabeth Magner, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, characterized Wells Fargo’s behavior as being “highly reprehensible.” Think about that for a moment. That means that the judge decided that to describe Wells Fargo as merely “reprehensible,” wasn’t enough.
Wow, that is something. Can you imagine someone saying that about you… a federal judge, no less? I’m thinking that if a federal judge ever has the occasion to describe my behavior as being worse than “reprehensible,” I’m going to jail for a long time.
Of course, no danger of anything like that happening here… bankers don’t go to jail in this country, every one knows that. But, in this instance, after more than five years in litigation with a single homeowner, Judge Magner ordered Wells Fargo to pay the New Orleans man $3.1 million in punitive damages.
Now, if that sounds like a paltry sum for the likes of Wells Fargo, that’s only because it is. And that it represents one of the largest fines ever levied related to mortgage servicing misconduct hardly makes it feel any better.
It’s kind of like being forced to eat dog turd ice cream, but finding out that it’s okay if you pour motor oil on top. Does that improve your circumstances? I guess so, but…
Judge Magner, in her opinion, wrote…
“Wells Fargo has taken advantage of borrowers who rely on it to accurately apply payments and calculate the amounts owed, but perhaps more disturbing is Wells Fargo’s refusal to voluntarily correct its errors. It prefers to rely on the ignorance of borrowers or their inability to fund a challenge to its demands, rather than voluntarily relinquish gains obtained through improper accounting methods.”
So, what was Wells Fargo doing exactly? Well, they were systematically over-charging the people least able to do anything about it… those filing bankruptcy. In this case, Wells Fargo improperly charged the borrower $24,000 in fees, but it wasn’t done by hand, it was the bank’s automated systems doing precisely what they were programmed to do. Like, anything but an isolated incident.
After the borrower fell into default on his mortgage, Wells Fargo’s automated system began applying his mortgage payments to interest and fees that had accrued instead of to principal, as required by his servicing contract, which in turn led to him being charged with a virtual waterfall of additional fees and interest. And even after the borrower filed bankruptcy, Wells Fargo continued to misapply his payments, according to Judge Magner’s written opinion.
And why wouldn’t they? I know, it sounds weird to say it, but I think I would have been disappointed had Wells stopped there.
There’s even a terme de l’art for this scenario used by consumer lawyers… they call it a “rolling default.” I suppose the name refers to the idea that once the scheme gets rolling, it’s all downhill from there. I think it should be called a “boiling default,” because once it’s boiling, you’re goose is most assuredly cooked.
Or, wait a minute… hang on… how about we call it: “Getting Stumpfed.”
(Come on, admit it… I’m good.)
Judge Magner went on to describe Wells Fargo’s litigation tactics as involving the filing of dozens of briefs, motions and other filings clearly designed to slow down legal proceedings to such a point that anyone thinking of mounting a legal challenge against a bank quickly finds it essentially impossible.
And since it’s only through costly litigation that the insidious crimes of Wells Fargo become apparent, all the bank has to do is prevent those with limited resources from doing what they can’t do with limited resources. Now there’s a winning business model for you. Like making billions by stopping blind people from seeing.
What sort of a company engineers this sort of strategic core competency anyway? Remember Ford’s infamous Pinto strategy… rather than fix the problem, just settle them as they exploded? Well, this Wells Fargo stuff makes that look as benevolent as Girl Scouts selling cookies after church.
Wells Fargo actually engineered a strategy and built a system to rampantly abuse the individuals in our society least able to defend their interests. This is a bank that deserves to have a statue erected in its likeliness and even its own Lazarus-styled sonnet. I’m just thinking out loud here, but how about…
“The Statue of Larceny”
And inside the base, engraved on a bronze plaque, could be these words…
Give us your jobless, injured, bankrupt filers, whose lawyers won’t work free.
The wretched refuse against whom in court we’ll always score.
Send them one by one, homes all sold by substitute trustee,
We’ll rape them, rob them, force them out Wells Fargo’s golden door.
Not bad, right? No? Sheesh… tough crowd.
Judge Magner, in an interview with Ben Hallman of Huffington Post, said that she personally analyzed the loan files of twenty borrowers in her court and found supposed “errors” in every single instance. So, at least we know the systems are working properly, and somehow I find that oddly reassuring.
I don’t know why but there’s something even more terrifying about the idea that we might be getting ripped off by banks in an entirely random way. Like one day you get hit for a hundred… and the next day not only is your entire IRA gone, but two weeks later you learn that the bank bounced one of your checks to the IRS for the penalty on the early withdrawal.
I know, right? Now, that would be rude.
I guess I only have a couple of questions I’d like to ask, and the most obvious is: Why would anyone whose read about this decision continue to bank at Wells Fargo?
I mean, if they do this sort of thing systematically… AND THEY UNQUESTIONABLY DO, how do you know where the other spots are that are picking your pocket for twenty here and twenty there. Because you’re not going to tell me you think this case has uncovered the only place at Wells Fargo where this sort of thing goes on, are you? Come on… what are you, six?
And, my second question is: What do our elected representatives do these days… I mean specifically? State or federal, I don’t care which… you pick. Because it kind of seems like we’ve quietly been transformed into a lawless society in many ways, don’t you think?
Like in this bankruptcy case… the judge has uncovered the systematic stealing from the defenseless, but it’s not like it’s a major news story, or anything. To the contrary, it’s nowhere. Doesn’t anyone but me find that amazing? How do they do that? Where have all the journalists gone?
I can tell you that I receive more complaints about Wells Fargo refusing to approve loan modifications than any three other mortgage servicers combined. But then, Wells did modify one of the homeowners I wrote about a few months back. I don’t know why, maybe it was an accident.
Here’s one more thing Judge Marner said about Wells Fargo in her written opinion…
“These are loans of working-class people who bought homes they could afford and whose loans were not administered correctly from an accounting perspective,” Judge Magner said. “I think that these types of problems occur in almost every [defaulted] loan in the country.”
So, Mr. John Stumpf… Wells Fargo’s CEO… you just go ahead committing those criminal acts with impunity. Don’t change now… go down with your ship. Besides, I’m sure there are deceptions your people haven’t thought of yet.
Do you have a program that targets autistic children yet? Or what about something abusive for unmarried pregnant chicks that never finished high school? Or, what about the elderly, are you doing enough to take advantage of the elderly?
I’m sure you’ll think of something, which is why I’ve told my wife and daughter to stay out of banks for the foreseeable future. We only make deposits at the ATM at night, which may sound crazy, but I’m betting will one day soon prove considerably safer than being inside during the day.
Lo siento. Que se mejore pronto.
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Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. The truth of the matter is “no one comes to the Father but by [Jesus].” This blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell
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