Twenty-five billion dollars worth of foreclosed real estate. Off the market. Out of circulation. Abandoned. Rotting. Coming to a neighborhood near you.
America is a debtor nation. We don’t “own” much more than the debts we have racked up over the years. Our houses are heavily morgaged, sometimes with more than one mortgage. We owe our souls to banks, mortgage companies and finance companies. We are paying on, not paying off our credit card debts, car notes and student loans. Our nation’s economy exists at the pleasure of the foreign countries who, up until now, have been willing to subsidize our spend thrift ways.
The notion of “paying off” our debts has become such a foreign concept to many financial institutions that they simply won’t let you off the hook, even if you have paid the debt off. As far as many of them are concerned, they own your fat American ass and will do so until you are dead.
Thousands of people across the country say they are being dunned for loans they paid off long ago. From student loans to home mortgages, and farm loans, scores of consumers say creditors came after them for loans that were paid off long ago. A nasty case in point is the case of a black farm family whose farm was just auctioned, for alleged non-payment of a mortgage. The family says they paid off the loan 8 years ago and have paperwork to prove it, but, like the case of Harry Young of Owensboro, they were not allowed to rebut the bank’s claim.
The Dade family said they have paperwork to prove the loan was paid off over eight years ago. They, along with a representative from the National Black Farmer's Association, asked for more time to work out the problem with the bank.
“We are here to protest this sale. This is an unlawful and horrible thing to do to a group of people,” John Boyd, with the National Black Farmer's Association, said. Despite the courthouse protest, the auction went forward and the Hardy property was sold. (TV station report)
There is so much wrong with the way the banking industry and its federal cohorts are conducting business. It is one thing to collect on a legitimately owed loan, but quite another to defraud families out of properties they paid for.
One of my readers said I was quite correct in calling these institutions thieves and land pirates, because there is a billion dollars worth of land theft and financial piracy going on, even as we speak. Pirates in some of the most well-known financial institutions in the land are busy forging paperwork, losing payments, delaying on posting payment, embezzling, and taking the nation to the cleaners.
Most Americans who haven’t been on the wrong end of one of these real estate or credit crimes, just can't face the fact that our precious institutions, including our courts, are tainted by corrupt insiders who line their pockets and fill the coffers of their handlers at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. Americans simply don’t believe what is happening before their eyes and when someone claims to have been ripped off by a credit card company, bank or mortgage company, most people are sure they are lying.
As one blogger put it:
When it's the borrower's word against theirs, the vast majority of victims are instantly discounted, and a very simplistic view of the world such as yours, dominates the discussion. "Companies wouldn't do that," is the most common view, followed quickly by "that would be illegal," along with, "if you made your payment on time you wouldn't have a problem."
The President’s bail out plan does nothing for the people who are victimized by corporate crooks and boiler room bandits in the mortgage and mortgage servicing industry and real estate con artists can keep on their merry way as far as this ARM grace period is concerned. Unfortunately, as far as this new legislation is concerned, it’s still smooth sailing for the crooks in the mortgage banking industry. And, there’s crooks a plenty in the business—some in the federal government itself.
People are fed up, and are taking their cases to court. While many say they don’t expect to receive justice, they have no plans of giving up and say they will keep their legal fight active. Such is the case of one legal eagle in the Northeast who has been butting heads with a banking institution over a mortgage. Tired of being screwed over by one of the largest mortgage holders in the nation, this alleged victim, an attorney in Connecticut, believes that there will come a day when the tide will turn in favor of the wronged consumer:
We will turn from being the hunted to becoming the hunters; we will go from being prey to pursuing the predators. We will watch to see if the AGs, the FBI, the SEC, the FTC, HUD, OTS, and other alphabet soup law enforcement agencies, which are funded by our taxes, indict, investigate, charge, arrest, and ultimately imprison some of these industry "leaders." We will take matters into our hands within the bound of existing law and fight like mad to save our homes from fraudulent foreclosures.
The racket within the mortgage industry puts the loan sharks to shame. There are so many hands dipping into your mortgage that you wind up with a herd of parasitic monkeys siphoning off your hard earned dollars, even as they devise more ways to screw you.
One mortgage insider asks a series of eye-opening questions:
Did you know that the Branch Managers and Area Managers get kickbacks for double charging appraisals? They force borrowers to pay the appraisal at the door, and then they CHARGE them again in the closing costs for the same appraisal. Every time they do that, the branch managers and area managers get a kickback from the appraisal company, or sometimes get a title company issued check!! Appraisals can cost over $350! (ezine)
There is no excuse for the type of illegal shenanigans going on all across the board in the mortgage industry. As another consumer put it, “Just because you have a mortgage doesn't give the servicer a right to steal from you.”
And, boy, are they stealing from you. In the worse case scenario, they’ll steal your property right out from under you, aided and abetted by their buddies in the courts, county recorders’ offices and in Congress. And, in many cases, even when you have proof that you have paid on or paid off the debt, their corporate shills and their judicial cronies roll over you like Sherman burning his way across Georgia.
At the heart of this mess is the facts that many judges are in collusion with the corporate crooks, or don’t believe the corporations would make mistakes of that magnitude, or even, as many legal experts say, are not really experienced in the ins and outs of bankruptcy procedure, real estate law and all of the attendant crooked clerical procedures which have become SOP in the industry.
It is easier to believe that a consumer is a deadbeat and approve a foreclosure, than it is to deal with the nest of snakes involved in real estate mortgage foreclosure. Nobody, often even not judges (the ones that aren’t actively “bought”), wants to believe in the amount of systemic corporate crime going on in the nation’s most “reputable banks.”
Yes, that’s right: those reputable banks who steer their minority home buyers to their “sub-prime” subsidiaries, no matter how good the borrower’s credit is. The high brow, mainline banks who make billions from their subprime subsidiaries. Yep, them’s the ones.
These are the reputable institutions that aid and abet the criminals in the sub-prime mortgage and hence, are guilty of the same crimes by association and assistance. Each party to the crime benefits from the collusion. The whole system of high piracy and thievery banks on the fact that, if push comes to shove, the banks and mortgage servicers have access to better lawyers than the consumers/victims do.
And, then, there are the minority owned and operated companies, which allegedly take advantage of the trust in their communities.
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A state agency has hit a black-owned mortgage brokerage with nearly $910,000 in damages and fines for so-called "reverse redlining" - selling loans with predatory terms to black families. They "used any manner of persuasion to broker these predatory transactions. The methods used were high interest rates, hidden fees, prepayment penalties, and in some instances, falsification of documents," according to the commission's findings. (AP, 2004) Even when the financial industry makes honest mistakes, if those mistakes benefit the company, the company is not likely to rectify the situation. Simply put, if mistakes make money, the corporation often doesn’t correct the mistake because odds are, the consumer doesn’t have the resources to fight back.
A large part of the problem stems from companies "making mistakes" and then deliberately refusing to correct them because they know, in the end, when challenged by someone without significant resources to mount a legal fight, they really don't have to. When the opportunity to strip significant equity from the "deadbeat" exists, there will be no admission of error right up to the point of public argument before a jury. Then there will be an offer a judge inevitably thinks is reasonable (they just can't believe a company would do such things to people and they share in the sub-prime prejudice) and the matter will be sealed. (mortgage rights blog)
Honest mistakes are one thing, but deliberately setting up consumers for foreclosure, that’s a whole new box of rotten fish altogether. And it happens more than we think, as is evidenced by this consumer’s experience:
I tried to prove my payments were made, but it didn't make any difference. They then added force-placed insurance (double the cost of my own insurance), and canceled my own insurance. They took over my tax payments. I had no control of any of this. Giving up on proving the payments, as it didn't help, we attempted to do a work out deal where we made double payments, to make up the payments. But the late fee's the property preservation fees & legal fees ate up the extra amount that was sent. For three years I made double PLUS payments. I over & over proved that my payments were made, but they could NEVER get anything right. Without monthly statements (they claim they don't have to) we had no clue to as how our payments were applied. Later after forcing them to give me an accounting of the loan- I learned of my payments being applied to their late fees- leaving the P&I amounts in default. Any additional monies were put into a suspense fund. (blog)
People don’t like deadbeats and judges are no exception to the rule. If a mortgage company can paint you as a deadbeat, even if you present evidence that you don’t owe the debt because you paid it off, our judges have convinced themselves that the banking industry wouldn’t be in court unless a debt was owed. And so, they discount the consumer’s word and proof all together. Judicial corruption, combined with a too cozy relationship with banking attorneys, and political ambition have turned many of the nation’s courts into rip off central. The property pirates are running the show and the consumer has no place to go. All of this has created a perfect storm of foreclosure, for which the nation will pay dearly.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this: most of the nation does not outright own their cars, homes, even the clothing on our backs. We live on credit and die in debt. Batten down the hatches and hold on, we are in for a real rough ride.
Monica Davis is the author of several books and articles on financial corruption, black farmers and social commentary, including:
Land, Legacy and Lynching: Building the Future in Black America http://www.lulu.com/content/458691