New Bank of America Whistle-Blower Emerges: More Customer Abuse Secrets
Bank of America whistle-blower details latest scheme to abuse homeowners, evade settlement rules and pocket cash
By David Dayen
Last week, I detailed bombshell revelations from Bank of America whistle-blowers, in which former employees of the bank detailed systematic fraud and deceptive practices inside their loan modification department — including bonuses and Target gift cards for staff who racked up foreclosures.
Now, another new lawsuit, featuring a separate whistle-blower, contains additional remarkable revelations – and may shed light on Bank of America’s strategy in getting out from under the mountain of legal exposure and costs in which it now finds itself. Simply put, the bank seeks to pocket quick cash and evade practices set forth in major settlements – by cashing out of the subprime mortgage servicing business. The result would be to leave struggling homeowners back at square one, with even fewer protections to avoid foreclosure.
First, some background. Over the past year, non-bank servicers like Nationstar and Ocwen have been buying up servicing rights to millions of mortgages, gradually positioning themselves to become the biggest companies in the space. These non-bank servicers, which process monthly payments and deal with foreclosures but do not originate loans, have an asset not available to their big bank colleagues: They haven’t yet been officially caught scamming customers. Therefore, they are not a party to the various servicer settlements brought by state and federal regulators, and they need not submit to those settlement guidelines. This includes rules like establishing a single point of contact for borrowers, stopping foreclosure operations when a modification is in process (ending what is known as “dual track”) and facilitating proper payment processing.
All of this has come to a head in a class-action lawsuit filed by Leonard Law Office in Massachusetts against Green Tree Servicing, a non-bank servicer based in St. Paul, Minn. As detailed by an insider at Bank of America in a packet of documents, in January 2013, BofA sold servicing rights to 650,000 mortgages (worth $93 billion) to the parent company for Green Tree.
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