Justice … or Just Another Scam?

In State of the Union, Obama Stands Up for Homeowners  Or does he?

Yes, on the surface it seems like President Obama’s announcement in last week’s State of the Union speech of a new financial crimes unit means homeowners fighting the big banks’ foreclosure feeding frenzy will finally see some justice.

I hope it is so. But I have to say I’m a doubter. Why? Well, the administration’s past actions and, more notably, inactions.

For one, back in 2009 Obama created a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which has managed to do some good investigating the pooling and securitization of mortgage securities by big banks, but doesn’t seem to have been too interested in aiding consumers cheated by bogus mortgage mod claims.

No big surprise there. The administration doesn’t seem to care what happens to homeowners, as evidenced by its much-touted HAMP program that was supposed to provide $50 billion to help 4 million homeowners keep their homes.

The program is a failure and a farce because it requires that those same banks whose unmitigated greed caused the foreclosure crisis in the first place will voluntarily comply with a toothless set of guidelines to help people refinance and restructure their mortgage loans. Instead the banks deliberately lie and cheat and string people along, then swoop in and foreclose. And neither the Obama administration nor Congress nor Attorney General Eric Holder nor any of the agencies that are supposed to oversee and regulate the banking industry has done a darn thing to stop the banks or help homeowners in any real way.

None of the executives involved in predatory lending practices or shady securitization schemes has gone to trial, let alone to jail. Nobody with any power to prosecute seems to cares that banks blatantly forged untold thousands of foreclosure documents, so why would the banks stop lying to people about pretty much every aspect of the so-called “home preservation” process?

And where is the political will to go after the fat cats, especially in an election year, when Wall Street and the banking sector provide billions in campaign contributions? We live in a time when the 30 of the country’s largest corporations (including my nemesis Wells Fargo) spend more on lobbyists than they pay in taxes and 25 of the 100 highest-paid CEOs make more money than their companies pay in federal income taxes.

Much as I admire New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been tapped to head the new financial fraud squad, I don’t think he and a small task force will make much headway against all those dollars.

And speaking of will, where has the will been for the past three years as foreclosures reached record numbers and the customers of all the big mortgage servicers complained about the remarkably similar games being played to delay and deny their requests for mortgage relief? The president didn’t mention any new laws being needed for his task force to go after financial fraud; in fact, laws already exist. They just seem to have been ignored at all levels, from AG Holder right down to municipal courts and community law enforcement.

So, I do hold out a teeny bit of hope that at least some token justice will be doled out by this task force, though I’m not as enthusiastic as Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi, who gleefully predicts that if the task force is for real we could see “half the luminaries on Wall Street doing prison time.”

I’m much more confident in Florida consumer lawyer Matt Wiedner’s analysis of the reasons why Obama’s announcement is just more propaganda designed to fool average Americans into thinking they and their issues mean anything at all to our so-called democratic leaders.

“The reason is quite simple….the banks and Wall Street are throwing hundreds of millions in bribes (campaign contributions) to shut up and buy off every bit of our government.

“Our government, at all levels, is entirely captive to corporations who do not exist to serve or protect The People.  They exist with one singular purpose in mind…maximize shareholder profits.

“So with that as background, I state that the President’s recently announced Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is nothing but theater. A farce. A cruel joke being played on Americans who think something will be done to protect them.”

Brewer is Embarrassing; Warren is Empowering

A well-known, “powerful” woman who makes my head hurt every time I hear her speak:

A well-known, powerful woman who makes my head nod in enthusiastic agreement every time I hear her speak:

Occupy Foreclosure Sales

I spent a very interesting morning standing on the sidewalk at the foot of the stairs leading up to the east entrance of the Pima County Superior Court building. At the top of the stairs is one of those places where the “American dream of home ownership” goes to die. It’s where foreclosure sales happen in Tucson.

I was there because my two-year fight to keep my house was scheduled to come to an end today. My home of seven years was slated to go to foreclosure auction, known in this non-judicial foreclosure state as a trustee’s sale, this morning.

I might have been the only homeowner facing imminent sale who was present this morning, but I was not alone. I was very pleased to meet up with a group of people  from Occupy Tucson. And I couldn’t have met a nicer group of people. They made me welcome, expressed sympathy at my plight and told me about their reasons for leaving their daily routines behind to stand outside the courthouse on a chilly Wednesday morning.

These were intelligent, articulate people dedicated to becoming more politically aware and to taking action against injustice they see as a threat to democracy. They were extremely well-informed about the foreclosure issue and there was a good deal of discussion of the finer points of yesterday evening’s State of the Union speech.

I was proud to stand with them today, holding my own protest sign, and to take part in a “mic check” speaking against illegal foreclosure tactics and MERS. And I was very happy to have them share with me the exhilarating moment when I heard from my contact at Wells Fargo that the sale of my home had been postponed pending re-review of my loan for modification.

Mad? You Bet I’m Mad. You Should Be Mad, Too!

With less than 48 hours to go before the trustee’s sale of my home, you bet I’m angry. Wells Fargo has lied to me and jerked me around for nearly two years. Wells Fargo refuses to restructure my mortgage loan, faking income and expense numbers that have no relation to reality but do support the illusion that I am ineligible for a HAMP mod. Wells Fargo refuses to return phone calls or answer letters and generally makes it impossible to deal with them on any level of professionalism.

You bet I’m mad and I just keep on telling my story to everyone I can. If you’re being screwed over by one of these big banks in their blind foreclosure feeding frenzy, I hope you’re mad, too. The only way to stop the mortgage servicing industry from continuing to trash the economy, undermine the rule of law and disrupt the lives of millions of Americans is for more people get mad. For more people stop doing business with these fraud factories and put them out of business.

If you’re existing in the world of foreclosure threats and “home preservation” scams, you have every reason to be mad. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“I’m going to be mad as long as I need to be mad, and then I’ll try to get frustrated.”

Wanna Trade? AZ Could Sure Use a New AG

Attorneys general all over the country are pulling back from a “settlement” with the big banks over the fraudulent practice known as robosigning. These people seem to be unwilling to let the big banks off with just a slap on the wrist for the past and ongoing(!) practice of fabricating foreclosure documents for properties whose ownership is hopelessly tangled by rampant securitization.

I sure wish my state’s attorney general was one of them. Too bad for me and the rest of Arizona’s homeowners, our AG is much too busy crusading against education and fulfilling the promise of his 2010 election on a “bigot ticket” that includes the governor and state schools superintendent. In this state that has consistently ranked in the top three hardest hit by foreclosures, we seem to have nobody advocating for us.

While thousands of Arizonans are losing their homes to banks without their day in court and without the banks having to prove they even have the standing to foreclose, Attorney General Tom Horne’s primary focus (the only item featured on the Arizona AG’s “Issues” web page) is promoting bigotry by working against high school students who want a broad-based knowledge of this country’s history. And supporting a law banning books in the state’s schools!

Too bad for Arizona homeowners, he’s too focused on important tasks like calling Tucson high school students “thugs” for demonstrating against his policies, for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and free assembly.

Luckily a few states’ top law-enforcement officials actually give a darn about the blatant fraud being perpetrated by the banksters against their citizens.

Delaware AG Beau Biden is fighting for the citizens of his state who are being lied to and cheated by big banks engaged in a foreclosure feeding frenzy.

And Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto is fighting for the homeowners in her state, which has continued to top the list of areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis caused by greed and mismanagement in the financial services industry.

Likewise New York AG Eric Schneiderman, who was kicked off the panel of AGs supposedly “negotiating” a settlement with the banksters in part because he felt like there needed to be some actual investigation before creating a situation where the banks would be exempt from future prosecution on foreclosure fraud.

Sure would be nice if someone in Arizona’s law enforcement structure was looking out for Arizona homeowners like this. Our former AG, Terry Goddard, would have been leading the way to holding the bankers responsible for their role in the foreclosure crisis. But under AG Horne, it seems we’re standing on our own. I sure wish we could trade him in for a real advocate of the rights of Arizona’s citizens.