Enlarge Elizabeth Warren (Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger)
If foreclosure victims get justice, trace it back to a bad decision to stonewall Elizabeth Warren last week
By David Dayen
I have spent the better part of four years trying, with little success, to raise awareness about foreclosure fraud, the largest consumer fraud in the history of the United States. In fact, there’s a whole little band of us writers and activists and foreclosure fighters. We have provided multitudes of evidence about fake documents, forged documents, illegal foreclosures, foreclosures on military members while they served overseas, foreclosures on homes with no mortgages, breaking and entering into the wrong homes, suicides by foreclosure victims, and above all the complete lack of accountability for these crimes and abuses.
But instead of giving voice to thousands upon thousands of victims of illegal foreclosures, instead of documenting the banks’ criminal practices, maybe what we all should have done is simply let the Office of Comptroller of the Currency – part of the Treasury Department — and the Federal Reserve construct their own settlement with the banks. Then, when it utterly unraveled — as it has over the past couple of months — the unimaginable fraud heaped upon homeowners would get more attention than ever before, particularly from a frustrated and angry Congress led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Indeed, despite OCC and the Fed’s best efforts to protect banks from harm, they’ve actually exposed them like never before. If I didn’t know better, I’d think there were moles among this gang-that-couldn’t-regulate-straight.
Before I get into Warren’s role, first flash back to April 2011. Foreclosure fraud was in the news, at least in the business section. State and federal regulators were investigating. Embarrassing disclosures were occurring on a daily basis. And the OCC, the primary regulator for the banks doing the lion’s share of the foreclosing, had to answer for their complete lack of oversight and enforcement. So they came up with a solution.