Sloppy seconds: Feds probe million$ in ‘double-billing’ by banks

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that banks have wrongly pocketed tens of millions of dollars from troubled homeowners by double-billing for mortgage escrow fees, The Post has learned.

Exactly how much in phony profits the banks may have pocketed from this alleged practice is not known, but an analysis by The Post of bankruptcy cases in 2011 shows it could range higher than $150 million for just the new cases filed this year.

The problem has gotten so out of hand that lawyers and accountants at the New York City office of US Trustee — charged with protecting the integrity of US bankruptcy courts — are poring over local Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases for evidence of wrongdoing.

The federal investigators were tipped to the alleged practice by metro area bankruptcy lawyers. Cases specifically involved Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage, but lawyers say most banks had double-dipped.

“It seems prevalent, and it’s a moneymaking machine,” David Shaev, a Manhattan bankruptcy defense lawyer, said of the banks’ double-dipping.

Westchester bankruptcy defense lawyer Linda Tirelli says 75 percent of her clients face escrow double-billing by their lender or mortgage servicer, for amounts up to $2,800.

Here’s how the double-dipping scam can be pulled off.

Check out how it’s done here…