Foreclosure Fraud Happy Hour Offers Support to Mortgage ‘Deadbeats’

Group swaps stories, support on foreclosure cases

Lisa Epstein talks with guests at E.R. Bradley’s Thursday afternoon during a meeting of the Foreclosure Hamlet. Epstein is a local nurse who started the monthly happy hour group for people dealing with foreclosure to talk to one another and to speak with lawyers about their case. (Brandon Kruse, The Palm Beach Post SoFlaShare / October 19, 2010)

Happy hour offers support to mortgage ‘deadbeats’

By Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post
5:47 p.m. EDT, October 19, 2010

Lisa Epstein flutters about the happy hour at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon with a big smile and a small vodka and soda. She’s a mother of a 3-year-old girl, a nurse to cancer patients and a deadbeat.

Oh, she knows that’s what people call her since she stopped being able to afford her mortgage payment last year and went into foreclosure.

In fact, most of the people at the Foreclosure Hamlet’s monthly happy hour gathering on Thursday haven’t made a house payment in months, or even years.

Divorced, sick, laid-off or self-employed in an economy on the wagon, they’re all derelict borrowers.

They gather for support and to share information, drawn by a feisty nurse in a cute pink scarf who — through persistence, willpower and her Foreclosure Hamlet blog — helped force the big banks to acknowledge that their massive home repossession operations were flawed.

It’s not often Wall Street is pushed to take a step back by a grass-roots effort of citizen investigators, but Epstein, 45, and fellow local blogger Michael Redman, 35, of 4closurefraud.org, are partly credited with the moratorium some major lenders placed on foreclosure proceedings.

They have been combing through Palm Beach County court documents for more than a year, posting suspicious foreclosure affidavits on their blogs; writing to judges, attorneys, politicians and reporters; and attracting a rock-star-like following of thousands nationwide.

“We used to be the wacko fringe, now we’re cutting edge,” said Epstein, sipping her first and only alcoholic drink of the evening and snacking on the free popcorn. “Finally, my questions are being asked by hundreds of reporters and attorneys general nationwide.”

Epstein’s road from full-time nurse to foreclosure fighter began when she started hearing her cancer patients talk about their mortgage woes.

In summer 2009, a patient with brain cancer was being evicted from her home. Epstein examined the court records and found that the foreclosure was scheduled for a summary judgment hearing — a quickie court trial requested when the banks argue that the foreclosure facts are irrefutable.

Epstein helped the woman write a letter to read to the judge and went to court with the woman on her lunch break. Neither could figure out who the true owner of the woman’s loan was, and when the bank’s attorneys didn’t show up at the hearing, the judge canceled the summary judgment.

“I believe nobody, and I mean nobody, knows who owns what anymore,” Epstein said. “We as borrowers didn’t create that situation.”

When Epstein found herself unable to get a loan modification on a condo she was trying to sell, she ended up in foreclosure. Her 800 credit score tumbled.

She said she started hanging out at the courthouse, talking to attorneys, sifting through foreclosure filings and sitting in on trials.

Oddly, she said she was an introvert before her foreclosure — so quiet, she jokes, that she was afraid her daughter wouldn’t learn to talk.

But in October 2009, she started ForeclosureHamlet.org. A month later, she held her first foreclosure happy hour.

“This has been an amazing amount of support for me, and knowledge,” said Jensen Beach resident Nicole West, who said she was “bait and switched” into a predatory loan that she can no longer afford.

“The banks beat you up for so long that you want to just give up,” said West, who attended Thursday’s happy hour. “But these people here, they are a very rare breed who are willing to fight.”

Not only did these “deadbeats” not make “a house payment in months, or even years.”

They got FREE POPCORN!!!

Where is the OUTRAGE!!!

FREE POPCORN?

WHERE ARE THE FEDERAL AGENTS!!!

~

4closureFraud.org

Comments
11 Responses to “Foreclosure Fraud Happy Hour Offers Support to Mortgage ‘Deadbeats’”
  1. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for pointing out that we aren’t all “deadbeats” or people who are too stupid to do basic math. We were very well qualified for our loan, and have put over $300,000(not borrowed, but cash) into our home with the down payment and improvements. This doesn’t include the $200,000 or more in payments we had made up until September 2009.

    Our commercial lender came in and auctioned off all of our equipment, with no notice in August 2009. We were current on payments, and had always paid our loan on time. Our nephew had filed a lawsuit against us that we had finally settled in July 2009, which didn’t help our business’ finances any, but we were still getting by. Obviously we couldn’t continue to operate after having our equipment auctioned off. We were forced to close, and lost both of our incomes. We were not eligible for unemployment.

    Having no source of income makes it difficult to continue paying one’s mortgage. We fell behind, but caught up with payments after my husband got a new job. We paid the mortgage for 3 more months despite the fact that it left us with only $500 for utilities, food, gas, and medical expenses. We didn’t want to put our 5 children through the trauma of losing their home, especially after the stress of the litigation and losing our family business. We were more concerned with the “moral hazard” of not paying the mortgage than we were with being able to eat.

    So no, we aren’t all deadbeat idiots who failed kindergarten math. Plenty of us are people who did borrow responsibly, and fought and sacrificed to try to keep paying the mortgage, even to our own detriment. I wouldn’t call what we did “simply walking away”, as they always so kindly put it on the news. It was by far one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. We couldn’t take any more of the emotional strain and left half of our personal belongings behind, as simply going into the house to retrieve the items was just to painful.

    Maybe it makes people feel better to assume that all defaulters are people who borrowed far more than they could afford, put no money into their homes, and simply loaded up the U-haul and moved on, all with the greatest of ease. I’m sure that may be an accurate description of some, but definitely not all of us. If only they would stop lumping us all into the same group, which doesn’t make us feel any better about ourselves, and certainly must make our children wonder if we really are just irresponsible idiots. They need to show the other side of the story, the people like us. They need to make the story a bit more human, because if they do, maybe it won’t be so easy for them to sit back and call us all careless morons.

    I would attempt to try tracking down the paper trail of our mortgage, but I am emotionally spent. I don’t have the energy left to fight the bank. And I assume it wouldn’t matter anyway, as there is no judicial requirement in the state of Washington. It seems the banks are getting away with their sloppiness anyway, which isn’t a huge shock to me.

    On the bright side, losing everything makes you realize what really matters in life. I’m just thankful to have my family, and for the fact my husband has a job for now. It would be nice to have some of the sentimental items and photos that were left behind, but I don’t miss the material possessions. The cocktail parties are a great idea. If we had one locally, I would definitely attend. I don’t like feeling judged and ashamed, which is how I feel around my “friends”. The whole ordeal has made me feel quite alone. Knowing there are others out there helps.

  2. I have one pet peeve about this article. The longer a homeowner goes without paying anything to anybody, the less seriously the judge may take them when they have their day in court.

    Why not encourage those who can afford to pay, but feel they got either a predatory loan or some other fraud going on to at least keep some kind of monthly escrow account deposit of an amount that is equivalent to what the homeowner thinks they should be paying.

    • Often payments are returned uncashed.

      But more importantly, much of the time, the bank that is foreclosing is NOT the bank where the person was paying their mortgage. Often the foreclosing bank or their attorneys do not talk to the bank or mortgage servicer that receives payments or agrees to a modification. Often, as in my own case, it’s a totally different bank altogether wholly unrecognizable to the person in foreclosure

      • The mortgage servicing company or whomever owns the note can say the homeowner has taken advantage of the system by living “rent free” for the past year or two if no attempts at payment are made.

        If the mortgage payment check is returned, that can be used as an exhibit in court by the homeowner. And if no payment is made but an escrow type of account is set up in which every month money is put into that account by the homeowner than good faith can be demonstrated.

        Aren’t these methods better than having happy hour in which it appears the celebration is over not paying anything on a monthly basis?

        If the loan is predatory, try and find a more reasonable loan that was executed near where one lives and compare and contrast the two.

  3. Andrew says:

    L found me searching Foreclosure Education almost a year ago. What a year will make huh L?

    I have found both the Hamlet, and the Happy Hour that I attended, to be both educational and friend bonding. We come together as like-minded individuals and walk away from these interactions w/ more education & friends than we could imagine.

    There are many smart people around this great country of ours and there are some that have been researching this FRAUD for so long. Some decades. And some of these Americans have provided US with stronger defense tools to assist us as well. I appreciate their efforts and abilities to have the cojones to Stand Up to defend OUR Country and Our Rights under the Constitution.

    @ John, We cannot be scared of that which we don’t know.
    @ B St Laurent, There should be a chapter in every county in EVERY state.
    @ MK, Careful w/ L’s popcorn…LOL

    God Bless L, 4F Et al…
    Ace

  4. Deborah Wynkoop says:

    With the help of 4closureFraud.com, I was able to track the documentation of my foreclosure and am 99% sure it is a part of the alleged fraud involving the infamous foreclosure attorney, notorious robo-signer that I googled, MERS and assignments dated after service. I am not a deadbeat; I worked hard and was in my home for 30 years before suffering a disabling accident and being self-employed, went through my retirement savings trying to meet my obligations! The lack of the banks willingness to offer loan modifications to people who had legitimate calamaties have forced many people who put their lives, souls and sweat into the american dream of home ownership to become homeless! To make matters worse, people like me who have lost everything through no fault of their own, cannot afford foreclosure a foeclosure defence law firm even with all facts in hand. Is there any firm filing class action suits or offering pro bono services to those in need in SW Florida? Please comment if so Thank You!

    • Hi Deborah, is the bank denying you access to your home equity line credit? If you lived in your home for 30 years and possibly paid it off, then you should be able to “take a break” and tap into your home equity line of credit while you figure out your next course of action.

      Is that the situation you are in, Equity rich but employment poor so the banks are trying to starve you out so you lose all of that equity you helped build up over the years?

  5. John says:

    I can’t say thank you enough for these two fighters!

    My concern though, and prayer is for their safety. Laugh if you want.

    With this much money and reputations on the line, big business can become dangerous.

    I always wonder where they get the folks to throw homeowners out of their homes. Where do these type of men come from? How much are they paid?

    WHAT WOULD THEIR MOTHER THINK!

    If they hire men to throw an old lady out or a mother with children, what would they do to save millions or billions?

  6. B StLaurent says:

    There should be a chapter in every county

  7. MARIO KENNY says:

    I love the free popcorn part the best

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