Steal someone’s house, then write bad checks

Here are three things that illustrate the problem:

1. An estimated 4 million Americans were wrongfully foreclosed on between 2009 and 2010.

Close to 1.2 million borrowers, or about 30 percent of the more than 3.9 million households whose properties were foreclosed on by 11 leading financial institutions in 2009 and 2010, had to battle potentially wrongful efforts to seize their homes despite not having defaulted on their loans, being protected under a host of federal laws, or having been in good standing under bank-approved plans to either restructure their mortgages or temporarily delay required payments.

2. The banks that stole those houses are now required to compensate the former homeowners — for $300 to $5,000 per stolen home.

Unless you’re a bank.

There’s no doubt that millions of homeowners were the victims of shady foreclosure practices at the country’s biggest banks when the recession hit. So many of those people were likely hoping for a positive resolution to their woes when the government said it was going to figure out how to compensate homeowners with its Independent Foreclosure Review, an investigation into banks’ mistakes in servicing mortgages. But after waiting years for an answer, about three million eligible borrowers will only be seeing checks for between $300 and $500.

3. And now those $300 and $500 checks from the banks are bouncing.

As if going through the nightmare of foreclosure proceedings wasn’t bad enough, some of the victims who have been compensated as a result of a settlement between big banks and U.S. regulators can’t even get their darn checks to cash. Most of those borrowers only received between $300 and $500, and have been told their checks were rejected when trying to get their money.

Perhaps we could help the banks out by enrolling them in an overdraft protection program. We’d only have to charge them about $32 billion a year — that’s apparently the going rate.

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  • Magic_Cracker

    I probably won’t be around too much today, seeing as I have a guillotine to sharpen and all.

  • MuseofIre

    Truly, why aren’t people out in the streets shouting “A la lanterne!”?

  • Magic_Cracker

    Game of Thrones is on.

  • The_L1985

    Seriously, TV, video games, and the Internet are today’s bread and circuses.

  • Brad Ellison

    I keep shouting “a la lanterne!” but my neighbors keep telling me to keep it down. If we’d implemented my “hang every lobbyist in D.C. from the Washington Monument / National Gibbet and then line the road from the Capitol to Wall Street with crucified bankers” plan back when I first articulated it in 2008, maybe we’d be in better shape.

    Maybe not, though. Revolutions are tricky things, and can get out of hand.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I had to look up “la lanterne,” but at least finally know why exurban McMansion neighborhoods don’t have streetlamps.

  • Foelhe

    My first thought on reading this post, no joke, was “Maybe the problem with the French Revolution is that it didn’t go far enough.”

    I mean, I don’t want to recommend a brutal and bloody Second American Revolution, but I’m having trouble thinking of alternatives at the moment.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Plus, to paraphrase Ed Abbey, the folks who condemn the 10-month Reign of Terror always ignore the 10-century reign of terror that preceded it.

  • stardreamer42

    Nitpick: the Second American Revolution was the Slaveholders’ Rebellion, which failed. So this would be the third.

  • JustoneK

    And that lead straight into the Fourth American Revolution…the _invisible_ one.

  • Foelhe

    Oh, damn. You’re absolutely right, sorry.

  • Brad Ellison

    Don’t forget the Whiskey Rebellion!

  • Enopoletus Harding

    And Shays’!

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Killing people? Not a good thing.
    The bank actions Fred referenced above? Not good things.

  • Jim Roberts

    Yes, I’m certain that their posts are completely accurate depictions of what they’d really like to do and are in no way intended as a way of blowing off steam. The jig, as they say, is up, thanks to you.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Oh, climb off the fainting couch. Unless you’re a 110% pacifist who sincerely believes that killing is always wrong regardless of the situation no matter what forever and ever amen, you’ve got no business accusing folks who of advocating theft and murder. And even if you do hold such a belief, I guarantee you’re willfully misreading blowing off steam as advocating murder as an excuse to flog your high horse. Seriously, do you really think I own a guillotine and I spent my day sharpening it? No. You do not.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    I am certainly not a 100% pacifist and do believe killing is justified in self-defense. Ideas, however, are a seed for action. ‘Blowing off steam’ by pretending to advocate violence holds the potential for serious advocacy of actual violence. Compare ‘Hipster Racism’.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I am certainly not a 100% pacifist and do believe killing is justified in self-defense.

    Then you have nothing to say, because revolutionary violence is self-defense. Compare: Helot revolts; Servile Wars I, II, and III; yes, the French Revolution; Nat Turner’s rebellion; John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry; the Tan War; the Black Panther Party for Self Defense; and a jillion other unrecorded instances of resistance.

    Was I, with with my guillotine comment, advocating revolutionary violence and expropriation of the means of production right now for our current situation? Absolutely not, but you, such like every other astute reader, already knew that, so now you have to trot out…

    ‘Blowing off steam’ by pretending to advocate violence holds the potential for serious advocacy of actual violence.

    Those seeds have been sown, grown, harvested, and sown again over and over (see: above), and six people on an internet forum using violent imagery to express rage at a naked and blatant injustice are like tears in the rain.

    Still, I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree with it and likely won’t be changing my opinions or behavior based on what you’ve said.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    The examples you refer to aren’t examples of self-defense; they are examples of vigilantism, the basis of warlordism.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Eight people think you’re a douchebag. But nice straw-personing there.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Unlike some people here, I understand that each person has good and bad ideas, and that the good ideas are to be praised while the bad ones are to be corrected.

  • hidden_urchin

    Unlike some people here, most of the posters can identify gallows humor when they read it.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    I explained why I don’t like such humor at
    I don’t see what’s funny about people being beheaded.

  • hidden_urchin

    You can say you’re uncomfortable with dark humor but you lost the moral high ground with your statement that “eight people here support either theft or murder.” As far as I’m concerned, it is more harmful to take the approach that people with whom you are talking would support criminal actions than to make a comment regarding the need for socio-political change (violent as it may be). Your comment is hostile towards the people here whereas Magic_Cracker’s harms none because it was not actually directed at anyone.
    You said you think bad ideas should be corrected. Well, your two edits to the first reply to Magic_Cracker were bad ideas.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Magic_Cracker’s comments were implicitly directed at the bankers mentioned in the main post. As you’re right about the problematic nature of my two edits, I have removed them.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Maybe you should think about how you’ve come across the last week or two to understand why even “good” comments by you are being downvoted.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    I understand full well that I’ve come across as overly confrontational and somewhat unempathetic in the past few months. Most of the commentators here do not seem to have a good opinion of me; this is understandable. But this is almost entirely due to the fact I am not often inclined to reply to comments I agree with. I still don’t see why comments should be judged only by past experience with users who write them, rather than by the actual content of the comments themselves.

  • David Policar

    I still don’t see why comments should be judged only by past experience with users who write them

    Do you actually mean the “only” there? Or do you mean you don’t see why past experience with the writer should factor into the evaluation at all?

  • P J Evans

    Make sure you get it properly greased. Otherwise it’s going to rust when it’s used. (I’ve heard of using WD-40, but I don’t know it it’s a good option in this case.)

  • Kevin Alexander

    (tugs at forelock) But should we be questioning the wisdom of our betters?

  • Jen K

    I just can’t with this. Just….no.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Don’t steal. Banks hate competition.

    That’s my take-home message, I think.

  • Foelhe

    I’ve been trying to write a reply to this for ten minutes, and every time I get started I end up writing something that would probably put me on a government watchlist. So I’m just gonna boil it down to “those worthless fucks” and go settle down for a bit.

  • WayofCats

    They are so, so, asking for it.

  • Hexep

    This is why I feel a tinge of pride whenever I see the five-star red flag wave on a pole. Today in the Shanghai Daily – Baby food made in Zhejiang found contaminated with mercury, causing great embarrassment for the authorities. Tomorrow in the Shanghai Daily – Zhejiang baby-food executives sentenced to re-education through asbestos mining, 70 years each.

  • The_L1985

    While I understand the reason for the US having the 8th amendment (It makes it illegal to sentence anyone to “cruel or unusual punishment”), I have to admit that the thought of bank CEOs being sentenced to hard labor like those baby-food company folks is a pleasing mental image.

  • David S.

    It’s rather nice to live in a country where baby food is not contaminated with mercury. A number of children died because China didn’t want to get embarrassed with contaminated milk during the Beijing Olympics. And embarrassed authorities have harassed journalists as often as the real causes, especially if the real causes have power.

  • Hexep

    I would make one correction to your statement: embarrassed authorities have harassed journalists /more often/ than the real causes.

  • misanthropy_jones

    this made me cuss so loud it attracted the attention of the lovely mrs. jones.
    and that requires a remarkable amout of obscenity and vulgarity.

  • Anon

    So are the checks between $300-500 or is is it $300-5000? There’s a pretty big difference.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not a significant difference. Five hundred, five thousand, who CARES, it’s nothing next to being foreclosed on!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Plus even $5k doesn’t come close to replacing the value of the house. Lemme guess, some lawyer actually walked off with most of the settlement money as their cut of the “get the banks off the hook” work.

  • syfr

    I can’t think of a house that isn’t worth at least $20,000. A shitty house in a shitty neighborhood in my city is probably worth at least that much.

    So … having my house stolen and being recompensed, at best 1/4 ($5000) of the value … or 1/40 of the value ($500)… my house was stolen! Fuck that shit!

  • Ross

    But unless they were forclosing on houses that weren’t even mortgaged, the homeowner didn’t actually have a $20,000 stake. The homeowner’s loss is the difference between their equity and the bank’s payoff.

    (In a better world, the bank would also be liable for stuff like the amount the homeowner lost from having to find a new place to live, but that would be damages, which is different from “this is what the bank stole from the person they robbed”)

  • Foelhe

    Of course, that ignores the fact that $20,000 is really damn cheap, and a lot of these homeowners may easily have had far more equity in the home.

    Let’s also point out – unless I’m reading this wrong, there were apparently 3.9 million homeowners in this deal. According to the article, how many of them got $5,000? Less than seven hundred. Everybody else got $300. So, probably less than the equity they had built up. Call it a hunch.

  • heckblazer

    The real story isn’t quite as bad as the quoted story makes it sound. The $300 payment is for being overcharged on interest payments, with the $500 one for having an approved modification plan when the bank foreclosed. By contrast, completing foreclosure on someone with bankruptcy protection gets the victim $65,000, and completing a foreclosure on someone not in default results in a $125,000 payment. The fine print in the table specifically states that these payments do not include lost equity.

    All that said, those amounts are still too goddam low.

    Pro Publica has made the payment matrix available online, so feel free to look at them yourself.,

  • Invisible Neutrino

    So bottom-line it for me: How many of these people are going to get back their goddamn houses?

  • P J Evans

    Not many.

  • heckblazer

    Not everyone lost their house, by my math only around 35% of the owners on the matrix had a completed foreclosure. As for how many, if any, managed to get their house back, that isn’t in the presented data.

    N.b., when I say “better than it sounds” I mean it’s horrible instead of f***ing goddam horrible.

  • Adam McLane

    That’s just not true. My house was foreclosed on by the wrong bank and I got $300.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yes, but that was Michigan. Michigan, as we all know, is Hell. Or at least Hell is in Michigan. I’m sure the details are irrelevant at this point. </sarcasm>

    In all seriousness, that was terrible and what you wrote on the subject is worth far more than the word “rant” adequately conveys. In particular, the fact that they refused to settle with you for the balance of the contract is ridiculous. The only reason to screw you like that is purely to steal the home away, which goes a long way toward proving just what kind of vile predator they are.

  • Lana

    well this post DID make me laugh.

  • Adam McLane

    Here’s my check:

    I deposited it on Saturday… so it’s still listed as pending. I just thought it was “hilarious” that I had to provide a state issued ID to deposit my check whereas Citibank foreclosed on a house for which Wells Fargo held the note. Had they checked some ID in the first place I never would have been in that mess.

    Lesson for me? Never get a mortgage again. Pay cash or rent.

  • AnonymousSam

    Was this in lieu of, or in addition to the $800-some odd you were supposed to get from the settlement?

  • Adam McLane

    The $300 is from a different process as they pulled the plug on the original program. The first process, which said they’d give people at least $840 was run by an independent body assembled by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. They gave up last year and pushed it back on the banks… so the banks set-up what they called “Independent Foreclosure Review” and hired a company to service payments.

    The letter that comes with the $300 check says that you can’t appeal it or get it modified, but it also isn’t opting you out of any other form of litigation. Unlike the previous process, accepting the money isn’t “settling” with them.

    HuffPo has a decent article about the outrage:

    There’s nothing we can do at this point or even really want to do. We have a little over 2 years until foreclosure rolls off our credit. The upside is that by renting we’ve got a ton more cash available overall. Home ownership, for us, was a financial disaster.

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, FFS… yeah, that’ll be yet another reason for me to never move back to Michigan. I fled the state just before the governor passed his anti-democracy laws and it’s only gone down from there as far as I’m concerned.

    Well, I was happy to see the windmills when I visited last week, but then a cardinal opened his mouth…