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The Big Lie on Fraudclosure

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On October 29, 2010 @ 7:18 am In Bailouts,Financial Press,Foreclosures,Really, really bad calls,Television | Comments Disabled

Yesterday morning, I had The Misinformation Hour [1] on TV as I got dressed for work. One of the comments that was made –  “No one was wrongly thrown out of their home” — was repeated or ignored by hosts and guests alike.

This is patently demonstrably false, and yet no one challenged it.

The banks have gotten the Big Lie [2] technique down to a science: State a lie so colossal that no one could believe anyone “has the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” In practice, adding factually accurate, but irrelevant or misleading color, helps push the lie on unsusp0ecting rubes.

The banks and their many supplicants have been successful in doing just that in the robosigning issue. Any discussion about property rights, due process, or criminal investigations into perjury are thwarted; instead, the focus is on deadbeat homeowners. And note that I am the guy who in Q1 2010 wrote More Foreclosures, Please . . . [3])

The misdirection is successful, and the average reader/viewer/listener has no idea how badly they are being misinformed.

Beyond property rights and due process, the issue of this legal impossibility of being wrongly foreclosed upon (absent fraud), are the bailouts. Saving broken business models managed incompetently by bad management is a recipe for more errors and angst.

Fraudclosure is a perfect example of this. When you save broken companies from their own incompetence, this is what you get.

We have no record of how many people have been erroneously foreclosed — the banks themselves are the only centralized source of that data, and they ain’t talking — but we have lots of anecdotal evidence [4].

The plural of anecdote is not data; what is needed is a central collection of all the anecdotal errors of false or erroneous foreclosure — someone with a national office, say a US Attorney’s or Congressman’s office.

I will tag a few people today . . . but to get them started, here is what I have assembled from the media:

The Erroneous Foreclosure Central Data Repository:

• Lawsuit accuses Bank of America of seizing wrong house: Dr. Alan Schroit filed the lawsuit Monday in the 122nd State District Court in Galveston against the bank with which he has neither a relationship nor a mortgage. (The Galveston County Daily News [5])

• Christopher Hamby of Wheelwright, Ky., filed a lawsuit against Bank of America for repossessing his home by mistake and refusing to pay for damages other than replacing the locks. (Floyd County Times [6])

• Jason Grodensky bought his modest Fort Lauderdale home in December, he paid cash. But seven months later, he was surprised to learn that Bank of America had foreclosed on the house, even though Grodensky did not have a mortgage.  (Sun Sentinel [7])

• A Hampton Pennsylvania woman is suing Bank of America, saying one of its contractors wrongly repossessed her home, padlocked the doors, shut off the utilities, damaged the furniture and confiscated a pet parrot, though her mortgage payments were on time. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [8])

• Charlie P. and Maria Cardoso of New Bedford claimed that their home in Florida was free of any mortgage. They filed a lawsuit for a wrong foreclosure, claiming that the Bank of America had foreclosed. Their lawyers argued that the Bank had already been notified about the wrong foreclosure, in July, despite which it got foreclosed (South Coast Today [9])

• A Las Vegas woman whose condo was mistakenly emptied in a bungled foreclosure action could be the first person to benefit from a new state law.  Nilly Mauck, left Las Vegas in mid-December for a snowboarding trip to Utah and returned to stay with a friend for a few days when she received a disturbing phone call. Something was amiss at the Coronado Palms condominium on Badura Avenue that she had owned for the past two years. (Las Vegas Sun [10])

• Ricky Rought paid cash to the Deutsche Bank National Trust Company for a four-room cabin in Michigan with the intention of fixing it up for his daughter. Instead, the bank tried to foreclose on the property and the locks were changed, court records show. (Dealbook [11])

• Sonya Robison is facing a foreclosure suit in Colorado after the company handling her mortgage encouraged her to skip a payment, she says, to square up for mistakenly changing the locks on her home, too. (Colorado Springs Business Journal [12])

• Thomas and Charlotte Sexton, of Kentucky, were successfully foreclosed upon by a mortgage trust that, according to court records, does not exist. (NYT [13])

• Ron and LaRhonda Wilson Sr. in a process that allows debtors to reorganize their finances. Lawyers representing Option One Mortgage Corp. alleged that Mr. Wilson was delinquent in mortgage payments and late charges, and asked to foreclose in March 2008, documents show. That foreclosure motion included a document now central to the case being pursued by the trustee: an affidavit submitted by Dory Goebel, an employee at a predecessor company to Lender Processing called Fidelity National Information Services Inc. In a notarized “affidavit of debt,” Ms. Goebel said the Wilsons were delinquent on monthly payments between November 2007 and February 2008, according to documents.  The Wilsons’ lawyer subsequently proved to the court that the Wilsons had made debt payments, according to court documents.  (WSJ [14])


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/10/the-big-lie-on-fraudclosure/

URLs in this post:

[1] The Misinformation Hour: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838368

[2] Big Lie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

[3] More Foreclosures, Please . . .: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog../2010/03/more-foreclosures-please/

[4] anecdotal evidence: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/10/examples-massive-foreclosure-errors/

[5] The Galveston County Daily News: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=4e1cfb1bebbf31e1

[6] Floyd County Times: http://www.floydcountytimes.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Man+sues+after+bank+takes+wrong+house%20&id=4217211&sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4cb762dcac277234,0

[7] Sun Sentinel: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-wrongful-foreclosure-0922-20100921,0,36776.story

[8] Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10068/1041290-54.stm#ixzz12MleYtgW

[9] South Coast Today: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100121/NEWS/1210334

[10] Las Vegas Sun: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/jan/02/they-forclosed-wrong-house/

[11] Dealbook: http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/homeowners-facing-foreclosure-demand-recourse/

[12] Colorado Springs Business Journal: http://csbj.com/2010/10/15/foreclosure-reform-push-likely-ahead/

[13] NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/business/28victims.html

[14] WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304316404575580703757450436.html

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