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Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

Amy Johnson, now 93 and facing foreclosure, thought the loan she purchased from Lehman Brothers, the now disgraced and defunct investment bank, was a fixed mortgage loan for $140,000.  She and her late husband hadn’t had a mortgage on the home since they’d paid it off sixty years ago.  After her husband died, she was struggling to make ends meet.  The loan turned out to be an adjustable rate mortgage for $750,000.  And the money appears to have gone missing.  Johnson has no memory of what happened to the three quarters of a million dollars.

Think about this.  A mortgage broker closed a deal with a woman in her mid-to-late eighties.  He/She probably earned a hefty (probably tens of thousands of dollars) commission by duping a financially strapped elderly widow into an adjustable rate mortgage loan $750,000 presumably with a twenty to thirty year term.  This is the pinnacle of predatory lending.   Here in South Florida, many seniors were likewise targeted, falling victim to the same practices.  Many have already lost their homes or are currently facing foreclosure.

Investors like pension funds or municipalities were enticed by slick commission based Wall Street hucksters to invest millions in the fraudulently rated mortgage-backed security bonds that were backed by thousands of such predatory mortgages.  This is where much of America’s retirement savings and public funds went.  The bonds sloshed through four to eight financial institutions on the way to the pension fund investors.  Each financial institution earned fees and commissions, taking their cut then and several continue to take their cut now, servicing mortgage loans and processing fraudulent foreclosures in the most fee-laden method that keeps the last bit of bond money flowing to the financial institutions until the well has completely dried up.

Professor Mary K. Ramirez wrote a white paper in 2011 titled Criminal Affirmance.  She writes, “Recent financial scandals and the relative paucity of criminal prosecutions in response suggest a new reality in the criminal law system: some wrongful actors appear above the law and immune from criminal prosecution.  As such, the criminal prosecutorial system affirms much of the wrongdoing giving rise to the crisis.  This leaves the same elites undisturbed at the apex of the financial sector, and creates perverse incentives for any successors.  Further, this undermines the legitimacy of the rule of law and encourages even more lawlessness among the entire population.”

Americans across the nation are waking up to the fact that police, prosecutors, law enforcers, and regulators refuse to protect the American people from the biggest consumer fraud ever committed.  This fraud covers a wide range of damage from draining billions from pension funds to millions of fraudulent foreclosures.   The highly lucrative nature of these crimes coupled with the lack of deterrents act as an accelerant, flaming the fraud.   Neil Barfosky, the former TARP inspector general fraud watchdog, recently released his book Bailout, a shocking account of the inclusion of a Treasury sanctioned bailout component that allows banks to extract and otherwise deplete wealth from millions of American citizens; homeowners, tenants, retirees, pension and 401k investors, etc.

The policy of criminal affirmance has led to a skyrocketing number of headlines, articles, and reports about unfunded pensionsunprosecuted real estate crimes, fraudulent foreclosures, and lawsuits by those groups who were scammed into purchasing fraudulent mortgage backed investments.   Two of the many variants of foreclosure fraud have been in the national media just this week, Wells Fargo is only one of the bad actors, but currently is the bank du jour on this week’s crime spree menu.

Six Easy Steps to a Government of the Banks, For the Banks, By the Banks

  1. Maintain a spinning revolving door between big finance and legislators, law enforcers, and regulators to ensure friends are in powerful positions.
  2. Fund an army of lobbyists ready to provide rapid-response, detailed, Wall Street-friendly analysis of proposed legislation and regulation (here,herehere,here, etc).

On September 27, 2012, there will be a hearing on the motion to form an official borrowers’ committee for any person with a GMAC originated or serviced mortgage, GMAC foreclosure fraud, GMAC modification fraud, GMAC real estate document fraud.
September 27, 2012 at 10:00am
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York

America’s economic crash was caused by financial industry middlemen.  They sold hundreds of mortgage-backed investment scams to pension funds, 401k managers, municipalities, non-profit endowments, and international investors like small towns in Europe.  The investment scams, bonds based on fraudulent ratings and assurances of soundness, seemed to be a safe, secure a way to earn money.  In reality, these investment scams were, and remain, a complex fraud that gravely harmed the families with deeply underwater mortgages and the bond investors..  The middlemen made, and continue to make, a bundle in fees while shifting costs and accountability on to other parties; homeowners, investors, municipalities which are crushed by the plummet in property tax revenue caused by the crash of property values.

This massive financial fraud lead to many of the nation’s current ills; the bailout,  39% decline in net worth, increase in poverty. and of course the foreclosure fraud crisis.   Governor Romney and President Obama have not addressed the true cause and effect of the financial crisis nor have the Democratic and Republican parties offered any meaningful campaign platforms.  The one candidate to prioritize this issue to a level commiserate with the harm done to the American people is a practically unknown Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.  Ms. Stein was recently arrested protesting Fannie Mae foreclosures.  She chose as her running mate Cheri Honkala who, last year, ran an unsuccessful campaign for Philadelphia Sheriff during which she promised to halt evictions based on fraudulent foreclosures.

Grassroots citizens groups are gathering momentum in hopes of forcing the major party candidates to address this issues.  Signs of this can be seen New Bottom Line campaign called Home Is Where the Vote Is to mobilize underwater homeowners as a political force and, in another development, protesters traveled this week to the Democratic National Convention to voice their deep concerns.  One of the DNC housing crisis protesters summed up his views, which are echoed by millions of his fellow Americans, “I’m actually quite disgusted with both parties. I think they’re captive of the big banks and the financial interests of this country.”

If at any time since the year 2000, you purchased an American home financed with a mortgage, you most likely will have a MERS(Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) or MOM(MERS as Mortgagee) Mortgage. If you are in South Florida, you can look up mortgages online on the following County Official Records websites:

Palm Beach County 

Broward County

William Edinger, 44, and his wife, Laura Mannetta, 35, moved their son, Billy, 12, and two daughters, Jessica, 10, and Melissa, 2, to a hotel, when they could no longer afford their $975-a-month home. Jessica often asks if she will go back to her school. “We tell her the truth, that we don’t know when we are moving. She gets upset and angry. We are lucky the other two don’t understand,” Mr. Edinger said.

With limited space to play safely outdoors, the children stay inside with their parents.  Jessica drapes the window curtain over her to create a temporary room for a moment of privacy.

Yesterday, blog published on the Education Debt Crisis here. 

Now, this blog has not yet garnered the status of the New York Times, but on the same day, the NYT, published both a video and an article on the exact same topic.  One of the only ways to shed student loan debt, even in bankruptcy, is to be found “hopeless” by the court. Doug Wallace, who is now legally blind and owes $89,000, is awaiting a ruling.  He is blind from diabetes, unemployed, and has no income.   With more and more education-debt loaded graduates finding their degrees worthless in an economy that failed them, Wallace is far from alone in his desperation.

Watch the video here.

“When the banks went under and the stock market went way down … I lost [most] of it,” said Charlotte Wahlstrom, 74,  who lives in a trailer in a small town in Michigan and gets by on $140/month in food stamps.

This wasn’t part of her retirement plan. After her divorce in 1976, Wahlstrom continued to work as an administrative assistant and went back for her college degree, later landing a solid job at a university. Growing up on a small farm in Minnesota, Wahlstrom learned to stretch a dollar, and by her late 50s she had accumulated roughly six figures in her retirement account. Unfortunately, it was mostly invested in stock mutual funds.  Wahlstrom is part of a group experts call “the hidden hungry.”

“When the banks went under and the stock market went way down … I lost [most] of it,” she said.  This is point where she would have been bailed out if she were a major financial institution who “lost most of it” when the financial crisis hit.

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