Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, September 26, 2016

June 21 (Bloomberg) — In one corner, we have five former Bank of America Corp. employees who told a federal court they were instructed to mislead customers on the verge of losing their homes and stall their applications for loan modifications.

In another corner, we have Bank of America, which says nothing could be further from the truth.

Who’s right? If anything, the bank’s strident denials make me more inclined to believe the workers’ claims. “These allegations are absurd, patently false and contrary to Bank of America’s long-standing policy only to foreclose as a last resort when other available options to help keep people in their home have been exhausted,” Jumana Bauwens, a Bank of America spokeswoman, told Bloomberg News in an email this week.

Perhaps some of the allegations may be wrong. But to say all of them are obviously false? You have to wonder. A lot of the former employees’ claims make sense.

We have known for years that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program failed miserably at its stated goal of helping struggling homeowners. In part, that’s because companies and divisions of major banks that service mortgage loans often can make more money from foreclosures than from loan modifications.

It didn’t bother the banking industry’s “robo-signers” that they risked committing perjury when they signed false affidavits filed in courthouses across the country to speed foreclosures along. Now, Bank of America would have us believe that all of these former employees were making things up under penalty of perjury when they came forward and told their stories.

The former employees’ statements were filed with a federal court in Boston as part of a lawsuit against Bank of America by homeowners who say they were improperly denied permanent loan modifications. Bank of America says it will respond to the statements in greater detail in a court filing.

The workers gave horrific accounts about Bank of America’s compliance with the Home Affordable Modification Program. One consistent theme was that they said they were told to deceive borrowers about the status of their applications.

“My colleagues and I were instructed to inform homeowners that modification documents were not received on time, not received at all, or that documents were missing, even when, in fact, all documents were received in full and on time,” said Theresa Terrelonge of Grand Prairie, TX, who worked at Bank of America from 2009 to 2010 as a loan-servicing representative. She said workers “were awarded incentives such as $25 in cash, or as a restaurant gift card” based on “how many applications for loan modifications they could decline.”

Simone Gordon of Orange, NJ, who left Bank of America in 2012, gave a similar account. “Employees were rewarded by meeting a quota of placing a specific number of accounts into foreclosure, including accounts in which the borrower fulfilled a HAMP trial period,” Gordon said. “For example, a collector who placed ten or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus.” Other rewards for placing accounts into foreclosure included gift cards to Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

“We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending delay of the HAMP modification process by any means we could — this included by lying to customers,” Gordon said.

  • Dominick Vila

    The foreclosure crisis was caused by several reasons ranging from greed, to myopic government policies, to personal irresponsibility, but there is no question that our financial institutions took advantage of the situation to profit at the expense of uninformed homeowners, with the help of a complicit government that did not do its job. When are those responsible for causing so much suffering going to pay for their crime?

  • charleo1

    Matt Taibbi, in The Rolling Stone magazine, continues to do some of the most
    informative, and to me, down right scary, reporting on the world wide financial
    sector. The title is something I think a lot of people have suspected. It’s called,
    “Everything is rigged.” As it turns out, oil prices are being set by the collusion of
    BP, Shell, and others. He writes about the manipulation of the Libor score. that
    determines interest rates. How the financial sector in this Country, managed to
    acquire triple A ratings from Standards & Poor’s, and Moody’s, on those
    mortgage backed, or collateralized debt products. Who’s collapse nearly brought
    down the world economy. As we now know, the way these influential ratings companies get paid, has been quietly changed. Instead of the investors paying
    them with fees collected on stock trades. Now, they are being paid by the same
    companies who’s financial products they are supposed to be impartially judging.
    So, wouldn’t in be nice, if you’re ever hauled into court over some alleged, nefarious,
    crime. That it is you, that is paying the judge’s salary, and not the State?
    Incidentally, in a by the by, side note. The CEO of Enron, just got his 24 year jail
    term, reduced by 10 years! Woo Hoo!

    • RobertCHastings

      Was this in “Rolling Stone”? I wondered where he had been.

      • charleo1

        Yes. Now, that’s a very broad statement to make. Everything is rigged. And, everything is also very complicated. And, there is simply no way the average person can know it’s going on, or have anyway to stop it if we did. The thing is, we the public, must have people who’s job it is, to look out for our general best interests. And keep the whole thing honest, or otherwise, eventually it doesn’t work for anyone. And that’s what’s not been happening. Selling credit was at it’s heart, a contrived con. Laws had to be changed to pull it off. But, that proved to be easy. The huge oil spill in the Gulf, had much in common with the financial scam. Higher ups simply told inspectors
        to go easy on the regulations. They complied, and we see what happened. The trade agreements, that precipitated the near collapse of our entire manufacturing base, was written by corporate lawyers, brought to the politicians by the lobbyist. Who around that table said wait a minute. China is using it’s workers that have no unions, or civil rights. So they can make them work for nearly nothing. What about the American’s manufacturing jobs? This bill essentially puts them in direct competition. It’ll cost millions of American jobs. We can’t be
        there. We need people sitting at that table, looking out for us. This
        accounts for a lot of my go to hell attitude, when they start with their
        crap about the lazy welfare moochers, and food stamps. The same
        politicians that are acting so indignant about all the spending, played
        a big part in selling these Americans out. So, now, they show their ass, about the government helping people get health insurance? The truth is, none of them have a Right to bitch about anything people get to survive, and make it thru the financial mess it was their job to prevent from happening in the first place.

        • Robert P. Robertson

          Cyber Warfare Beats The Other Kind, National Memo
          “So all you can do is continue to rant and spew hatred. That really contributes to the conversation. Why not try to understand what is said in contradiction to your views ( I am not saying, accept, just understand). If, for what ever reason, you feel our arguments are sufficient, atleast show the courtesy of being reasonable about it.
          From the time of John Adams, our government has tried to stifle dissent. Which is just a little strange seeing that Adams was one of the chief dissidenters in the actions that led up to our Revolution. His Alien and Sedition Acts suspended freedom of the press for a period. Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus put our Constitution in danger. The list would require a rather large book to deal with efficiently, for such activities have been engaged in by virtually every president since Adams, and many Americans have expressed dismay at such actions. In an open society such as ours, doesn’t it seem just a little obtuse to be hiding secrets so assiduously, and jumping all over the “whistleblowers” even though there are laws in place to protect them?” —RobertCHastings
          I don’t know about anyone else, but that sounds and smells like a neo-Confederate Tea Bag to me. You need to own up, RobertCHastings. You have to shit or get off the pot! Just say so and stop taking the people on this site for fools.

          • charleo1

            We’re talking about the housing crisis.
            So, I have no idea why I received this.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            It wasn’t intended for you. It’s directed at RobertCHastings. I hit the wrong reply that was just beneath your post. But you get the message, right?

          • charleo1

            No Robert, I’m not sure I do get the message. As I have agreed with both you and Hastings, over a broad range of topics here in the past. If the disagreement was on Snowden, the NSA, leaks in general. And how we deal with whistle blowers. And, if, what Snowden has done is actually patriotic, or treasonous.
            The politics are all over the place. Liberationist who usually
            side with Conservatives. Find themselves in agreement with
            Left leaning Progressives, like Michael Moore. While, middle
            of the road Democrats, find themselves in agreement with
            Dick Cheney. So, while I love to read comments with passion,
            and conviction. And I’m as guilty as anyone of losing my
            temper and going over the top. I think we must be mindful,
            that we are stating our opinions to explore issues. And, not
            to shut down others who’s opinions may vary from time to
            time. So, love your comments. Love your passion. But,
            let’s encourage conversation, even if we don’t agree.
            Respectfully, charleo1.

          • RobertCHastings

            Sorry about that, he was responding to my posts.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            Not as sorry as you will be before this is over with, you sell out pussy.

          • RobertCHastings

            If you have been paying attention at all you KNOW that the views I express definitely are NOT Tea Bag ideas, in fact Michele Bachman and Glenn Beck would both have hernias over what I said. If you think my statements about continued government attempts to stifle dissent are inaccurate, then do some research. If you think I have wrongly indicted John Adams on the Alien and Sedition Act, then find out who SHOULD be indicted for this attempt at muzzling a free press. You apparently disagree with me, so at least tell me why. The neo-confederate Tea Bag flag just doesn’t hold water.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            No, clown. Don’t skirt the real issue. this issue here is YOU. You have a rotten heart. You talk with your mouth but your heart is rotten. You are a Republicunt/neo-Confederate Tea Bag. You have to answer to this, bitch. Own up or ship out.

        • RobertCHastings

          Most of what you are saying is in direct agreement with the statements from the Occupy Wall Street movement, a movement the mainstream press has either been ignoring or dissing, simply because they are a part of the bigger problem.

          • charleo1

            I think that’s right with respect to the press. It’s difficult for
            the Left to make critiques about the press. Because, frankly
            Conservatives are at constant war with main stream media
            for what they claim as biased reporting, favoring the Left.
            But, I think it behooves us to remember the press is owned
            and operated by some of the same corporations that are lobbing Congress for tax breaks, and other favors. The issue
            of access is also important. If a politician feels a newspaper,
            or a cable news, has been particularly, less than helpful, they will cut that operation’s access. So, the press is often pulling
            punches with respect to these high profile politicians. Often
            at the expense of the public’s Right to know. For example,
            the run up to the war in Iraq, was a huge failure of the press
            to question the cherry picked information being put forth as
            justification for going to war. In that respect, they were most
            assuredly not shilling for the Left.

          • RobertCHastings

            Excellent points.

      • Robert P. Robertson

        WATCH THIS SUCKER, ROBERTCHASTINGS. HE/SHE’S A SELL OUT MASQURADING ON NATIONAL MEMO!!! DON’T FALL FOR HIS/HER BULLSHIT POSTS!!!

  • Truthteller1952

    The time has come for a complete audit of Bank of America — if it is found that the $500 bonuses were paid, then those who received them and EVERY employee above those people in management be arrested for fraud, and the ENTIRE Bank of America Chain dismantled, the profits confiscated and paid out to those homeowners who were defrauded.

    • RobertCHastings

      Prior to the bailouts, millions did lose their homes, and because of what BofA is still doing, millions more will lose their homes. A $1400 check just doesn’t cover that, and I, as a taxpayer, am sick and tired of bailing lying, greedy chiselers. I don’t own any stock in BofA, and if I did I would gladly give it up just to see those worms squirm.

      • Robert P. Robertson

        You sell out, hypocrite, bitch. you think it’s okay to float around here fooling everybody? You have to answer for your masquerade. You come on here kissing ass with everyone, but behind the scenes you’re a neo-Confederate tea Bag scum. Own up, bitch, or ship out. I’m going to let everyone know about you and WhutHeSaid. You won’t be fooling anyone now, you sorry two-face.

        • RobertCHastings

          Sorry you find it so difficult to engage in a reasonable exchange of ideas. Your reversion to abusive language and ranting serve only to paint you as what you apparently are, a narrow-minded ideologue.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            And you are a yellow-bellied, coward assed sell out. You get on this post talking out of both sides of your mouth, fooling people to believe you are something you’re not. You have a rotten heart, bitch, and you need to own up. Don’t start to talking like a victim when the people you are deceiving on this site are your victims. You exposed yourself, you fake, two-faced coward. I will deal with you the way I would deal with any Republicunt/neo-Confederate Tea Bag scum, especially the kind that would reach out a friendly hand while he/she is hiding a dagger behind his/her back.

          • RobertCHastings

            What the hell are you talking about? If, for whatever reason, you feel I am a Tea Bagger in disguise, I find that truly incomprehensible. Apparently, you have no understanding of the history of the issue of government spying and government suppression of dissent.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            I have a complete understanding of a sell out two faced coward. You are a neo-Confederate Tea Bag scum. You revealed your hand to me and I’ve shown it. Own up to it, pussy, or get off the pot. You can’t be hot and cold. you can’t be half way pregnant. Don’t talk progressive, but in your heart you’re a traitorous, Republicunt/neo-Confederate Tea Bag scum. Get from behind your mask and show people who you are. Don’t kiss people on the cheek and then stab them in the back, you sniveling little coward.

          • RobertCHastings

            You stupid fucking little worthless piece of shit. Your bullying doesn’t cow or scare me in the least. It just shows that you are too much of a fucking coward to engage in honest dialogue.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            “Honest dialogue”? You are rotten to the core. There is not an honest fibre in your being, you funky neo-Confederate scum. If I were in front of you bitch, I’d spit in you nasty face, you yellow dog coward. Spineless, side-winding snake, your mouth is full of dried dust and a split tongue. People need to be made aware of you, because you’re pulling off the same tricks of your backers, you mangy dog. You’re a neo-Confederate yellow dog, an ALEC sponsored bitch sent here to disrupt the honest dialogue on this site. I’m calling you out, bitch, and you need to own up or ship out.

          • RobertCHastings

            Kiss my as, you stupid fuck. Your mother was a bitch.

          • Robert P. Robertson

            Kiss your own ass you rubber neck bitch. You ought to be in the grave with your stinking mother, you low life fucking coward.

          • RobertCHastings

            Yes, I know you are, but what am I?

          • RobertCHastings

            I have gone back over the postings we exchanged to the one where you seem to lose it and, honestly, I really do not see what your problem stems from. My postings on the topics we have been discussing have been consistent, and my opposition to the Tea Party agenda has also remained consistent. I have expressed as much displeasure with Fox News and their cohort of contributors as anyone else. I have and always will supported the same transparency and integrity in the government that I would expect from those who deal with me personally, including you. When I make a mistake in my research or come to the wrong conclusions, I admit it. So, whatever your problem is, I cannot fathom it.

  • nancyminter

    It is time for the banksters to go to jail, and I mean real jail.

  • RobertCHastings

    Obama apparently needs to take this operation out of the hands of the bank and put it squarely in Federal hands, like they took student loans out of the hands of lenders who were charging usurious fees.