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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Here is comment from someone following the HAMP SCAM

"That’s crazy that they keep SAYING something different every time you call but then again, when it’s a scam you have to make it up as you go."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bank of America keeps telling me I cannot apply for the HAMP again.

I am wondering if they are just trying to discourage as many people as possible. Now that the gig is up, and they can't use HAMP to rack up excess fees anymore, without the light of the world being shone upon them, they no longer have any interest in the game?

I will call again in a day or so and apply again with someone new. Each and every person I spoke with said something different.

One said you need to wait 30 days after you are denied to apply again. Another said you need to have new extra income to apply again. Another said you have to wait until you get the denial LETTER in the mail. Of course I never got any letter....but that's OK, this will all be addressed in my law suit. How they dragged me through the proverbial ringer for 20 months just to increase the fees they can collect when they foreclose. The bogus fees they charge for having people drive up to my house over and over again to confirm occupancy, when I have sent them repeated proof of my occupancy.

I sent them my driver's license, recent utilily bills, car insurance, phone bills etc, yet still they need to pay people to come knock on my door at 8 am. And the funny thing is that they pay these people $50. and they charge Fannie Mae $100. for the "service" that was never needed in the first place.

The bottom line is until some of the top CEOs start paying with their freedom, AKA "prison" this crap is not going to stop. Let me rephrase that more positively. When they start throwing these CEOs in jail then this corruption WILL STOP.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Young Lawyer's Fight To Save The Homes Of Low-Income Families

For some low-income homeowners in DC, a home loan modification can mean the difference between keeping a house that's been in the family for generations, and homelessness.

But pursuing a modification can also mean endless phone calls, pricey faxes, and piles of paperwork with no guarantee of protection from wrongful rejection. This is where Jennifer Ngai comes in.

Jennifer, a 30-year-old attorney and Equal Justice Works Americorps Legal Fellow at the Legal Aid Society, specializes in navigating this frustrating system for Washington, D.C. residents who qualify for loan modifications, but are trapped in an endless maze of contradictory information. She tirelessly works to secure permanent, affordable modifications for families who would otherwise be homeless.

Jennifer explained that despite the fact that banks were given financial incentives to work with homeowners who are behind on their loans, "the reality is that no one could possibly make it through the phone and fax system where you can never talk to the same person twice, and you get inconsistent information."

"A lot of my clients belong to this very specific population of being very low income, where if they lost their house, they would truly be at the very bottom of the poverty level and they could not afford to rent," Jennifer said. "I have clients who have very, very low mortgages and defy many of the stereotypes that I think a lot of people in foreclosure are judged by." Jennifer said clients have been brought to foreclosure owing as little as $2000. "Frankly, the bank doesn't care what the dollar amount is," she added.

Jennifer said her most representative case involved working with a home owner who lost her job at a department store and realized that she wouldn't be able to make the $500 monthly payments on her home equity loan. But because her husband had a large enough salary, she qualified for a modification. "She tried, but every time she called, she got different information," Jennifer said. When Jennifer got involved, the family were just a week from losing their home, pulling their daughter out of school and finding another place to live.

"We had to put up a fight," she said. But in the end, they got the interest rate and payments lowered to an affordable level, and the term extended to 30 years. "They were able to carry on with their lives," Jennifer said.

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AdvertisementEven as an attorney, Jennifer said she gets the same runaround as her Legal Aid clients. "The only difference between me and a homeowner is that I have the leverage of understanding the legal requirements of the bank, and the program requirements of [the Obama Administrations Home Affordable Modification Program], so I can escalate and I can threaten to litigate, and I can litigate if I have to," said Jennifer.

If endless phone calls don't work, Jennifer explained she knows how to get in touch with people higher up the ladder at mortgage companies, even going as far as writing letters to the CEO.

"The best thing we've found is to keep things in writing, and to escalate, escalate, escalate," she said.

"[This] sometimes means trying to work with someone in the office of the president of a mortgage company, sometimes it means trying to find a legal contact, sometimes it means writing to the CEO because you just can't get traction with anybody else."

Though she's dabbled in the realm of corporate law, Jennifer's has always leaned toward work in the public interest arena.

"Towards the end of college, I was really looking for a way to use communication skills, and be a bit more of a problem solver," said Jennifer.

She was working in consumer law, mostly working with big companies when she found out the Legal Aid Society were planning to help low income families dealing with foreclosures.

Immediately, she wanted to be part of it and hasn't looked back. "It's really rewarding work," she said.

by Yepoka Yeebo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Not a single prosecution for the banking fraud that has been committed.

Oh but their time will come, I see it clearly before me. It is still not entirely well know amoung the mainstream population what the banks have done, but their day in court will come, I feel it.

It will be somewhat amazing when it all comes out. Someone will write a best selling book, Oprah will do a piece on it and people will act surpirsed and suddenly sympathetic. I hope I can forgive them.

For those of us who got caught up in the cogs of this broken down machine, we will be long gone and oblivious to the pain and suffering of the next group of "middle class" people to fall. Why should be care about them? They pointed a finger at us as we fell. They blammed us as we clawed and begged for survival. We were alone, so we thought. No one to talk to, we blammed ourselves. People committed suicide. I have stories of some of these people on this blog. They didn't know that there were millions of Americans falling. They felt alone and to blame. Obviously they weren't.

I remember a few years ago a story of a family, you all probably remember this story. Both the mother and father were laid off from their jobs. The father killed his wife, his three children and himself. At the time I thought it outrageous, but having lived through the war of financial destruction, I understand it now in a way I NEVER COULD HAVE BEFORE. It has made me a stronger person, a deeper person, an angrier and a happier person all at the same time.

I know what failure looks like from the inside, and its ugly. I know what it feels like and I know what it feels like to think that you would be better off dead. As crazy as that sounds, I guess its one of those things you just have to have been there!

I wish I could have a chat with that father today. Had he only known what was happening, had he known what was going to happen, had he just not been so unlucky to be one of the first to fall, maybe, just maybe that
family would be here today, happily living in their affordable rental.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shahien Nasiripour Financial Crisis Prosecutions On Wall Street Slow To Develop Despite Cries For Justice

NEW YORK -- After the last major banking crisis, some two decades ago, roughly 3,800 bankers were prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms, by the Justice Department's count. Yet this time, some four years after the economy descended into the most punishing financial crisis since the Great Depression, the public still waits for the Obama administration to deliver a similar kind of justice.

The 2007-'09 financial crisis was "avoidable," a bipartisan, congressionally-appointed panel concluded last week. Mortgage fraud "flourished" in the run up to the collapse. Securities fraud was apparently widespread.

"Lenders made loans that they knew borrowers could not afford and that could cause massive losses to investors in mortgage securities," the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission wrote in its report on the causes of the collapse. About $1 trillion worth of home loans made from 2005 to 2007 were "fraudulent," the commission said, citing testimony from experts. The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, told the commission that she defined fraud to include lenders' "sale of unaffordable or structurally-unfair mortgage products to borrowers."

And yet, the perp walk so many Americans crave -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once referred to it as the "very deep public desire for Old Testament justice" -- hasn't occurred. Wall Street figures have largely gone untouched. Bank directors kept their jobs. In a sign that perhaps the fallout from the crisis has passed, outsized compensation is back.

"People need to go to jail," said Liz Ryan Murray, policy director of National People's Action, an advocacy organization that helped launch the website "If you steal something, you go to jail. If you falsify documents, you go to jail. Why doesn't that apply to big bank executives?"

Officials from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been asked those questions before -- often during testimony before various congressional panels. DOJ prosecutes crimes, while the SEC files civil cases, though it can also refer cases to Justice for criminal prosecution.

But those powers haven't been used enough, experts say. The law-enforcement agencies suffer from a lack of combativeness. They're handicapped by the fact that they're looking at potential violations not while they're in the act, but long after they were committed. And they deal with complicated transactions that could be difficult to explain to juries, rendering their efforts to take cases to trial more challenging.

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Advertisement"These are tremendously difficult cases to make," said retired federal judge Stanley Sporkin, who worked at the SEC for 20 years, seven of them as head of the commission's enforcement division.

Referring to the most prevalent allegations of fraud, those involving home mortgages and the financial instruments they were packed into, Sporkin said law enforcement is likely having trouble "finding where it started, what the person did, and where the fraud is."

Last year, the Justice Department promised to take swift action. "By taking dramatic action, our goal is not just to hold accountable those whose conduct may have contributed to the last meltdown, but to deter such future conduct as well," Attorney General Eric Holder said in January 2010 during testimony before the crisis commission.

A year later, that action hasn't materialized, despite evidence of conduct that would seem to merit it. Last week, the Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that banks that sold home-loan bonds often didn't disclose key details that would have helped investors accurately judge the quality of the investments. Investors were rarely told, for example, whether the mortgages failed to meet the banks' own standards.

That failure raises "the question of whether the disclosures were materially misleading, in violation of the securities laws," the crisis commission said. It referred several financial-industry figures to law enforcement for potential prosecution.

"I'm frustrated," former Sen. Ted Kaufman told Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general heading the Justice Department's criminal division, and Robert Khuzami, head of enforcement at the SEC, during a September hearing. "We have seen very little in the way of senior officer- or boardroom-level prosecutions of the people on Wall Street who brought this country to the brink of financial ruin. Why is that? Is it because none of the behavior in question was criminal? Is it because too much time passed before the investigators got serious? I mean is it -- has the trail gone cold?"

Or, the Delaware Democrat asked, "Is it because the law favors the wealthy and powerful?"

Jeff Connaughton, Kaufman's former chief of staff, said prosecutors and enforcement officials at the SEC aren't being aggressive enough.

Last November, Connaughton delivered a stinging speech to about 300 regulators and Wall Street executives at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York slamming law enforcement's response to the financial crisis.

Fraud was at the heart of the crisis, he said. And law enforcement's response has been inadequate, to the point that it is unlikely to deter future financial fraud.

"Where are the cases?" Connaughton asked. "There have been many successful cases brought against mortgage brokers, as well as an impressive list of recent cases against Ponzi schemes and insider trading."

But after the Justice Department in 2009 lost a high-profile case against two hedge-fund managers at the defunct investment firm Bear Stearns Cos., Connaughton noted, there have not been any additional criminal indictments at major firms for behavior connected with the financial crisis.

"They realized how difficult it is to make a case" in the litigation against Bear Stearns, Sporkin said. "These are not easy cases."

Sporkin added that the SEC and the Justice Department may now be "gun-shy."

In September, Kaufman said he had thus far "waited in vain for the sort of prosecutions that we predicted would come" as a result of the financial industry's near-collapse.

"Criminals on Wall Street must be held to account," he said.

DOJ and SEC spokesmen declined to make officials available to answer questions on the record. Instead, the spokesmen referred questions to previous congressional testimony and public speeches.

The SEC said it had pursued executives at New Century Financial, once the nation's second-largest subprime mortgage lender; Goldman Sachs Group; Citigroup; and a top executive at Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, once the nation's largest nonbank mortgage lender. Most of those cases have been settled.

"We've brought a series of important enforcement actions in areas that most people associate with the financial crisis, and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors in those cases," Lorin Reisner, deputy director of the SEC's enforcement division, wrote in an email. But, he added, "there is more work to be done."

The Justice Department also indicted the Taylor, Bean & Whitaker executive, Lee B. Farkas, and is said to be pursing a criminal investigation of Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, once the nation's biggest mortgage lender.

In a November speech, Breuer, the assistant attorney general, touted Justice's few victories and explained the department's philosophy. It's emblematic of law enforcement's overall tone towards the financial sector, experts say.

"There are some who, despite this track record, have expressed disappointment that we have not yet criminally prosecuted the leading financial institutions or their principals for conduct that may have helped lead to the financial crisis," Breuer said Nov. 4 in New York. "Though I can certainly understand the impulse and desire to hold someone accountable, I also want to stress an equally important principle - that we can, and will, only bring charges when the facts and the law convince us that we can prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

Added Breuer: "We simply can't, and won't, indict people based on outrage or suspicion alone."

While he oversaw the SEC's enforcement division, Sporkin took a different approach.

The former judge, who also served as general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency after he left the SEC, said his philosophy could best be described as "getting in the first strike."

"What I tried to do was be ahead of the curve," Sporkin said. "Rather than react, I was looking for the issues and then striking almost as you would in a war."

Sporkin's team, he said, looked for laws that enabled them to go after what they viewed as fraudulent activity.

"We were being instinctive. We were using our abilities to say, 'What the hell is going on here?' and then using the law to go after" corporations and Wall Street firms engaged in wrongdoing, he said.

Sporkin's approach stands opposite that of today's law enforcement, said Joshua Rosner, managing director at independent research consultancy Graham Fisher & Co.

"In the old days, [the SEC] was not shy about bringing actions against even the largest firms and would litigate," Rosner said. "The offender knew that settling without admission of wrongdoing was not an option."

Rosner said the risk that prosecution poses to a firm's reputation is much more effective when trying to change future behavior, as opposed to the SEC's current approach of settlements and fines. He added that the SEC appears to be going after small-time crooks, rather than big firms on Wall Street.

"The SEC might as well list the penalties today so banks can just build it into their necessary rates of returns on infractions -- kind of like the back of a parking ticket," he said.

The former SEC enforcement chief said another problem hindering current prosecution of financiers is the lack of dramatics associated with today's financial crimes.

"You got to make it sound like it's somebody coming to you, knocking on your head, and taking money out of your pocket," Sporkin said of his approach to juries and explaining financial wrongdoing to the public. "You just can't try these as some kind of academic case."

"Too bad he's not at the SEC now," Rosner said of Sporkin. Likewise, Connaughton, Sen. Kaufman's former chief of staff, said law enforcement "needs someone like a Stanley Sporkin."

Even Sporkin, however, stressed that prosecutors and enforcement attorneys at the SEC face an uphill battle.

"How do you tell a jury that a person who didn't disclose something in a report should go to jail?" he asked. "These are hard cases to dramatize."


Thursday, February 3, 2011

For anyone who has spent any time in fear or shame, this article is for you.

People from all walks of life have found themselves in this situation. Its not your fault, you are not to blame, nor are you alone. Life will get better; keep moving forward and leave the guilt, fear and shame at the door-step of your favorite bank.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hello FINALLY! They are admitting, that HAMP was used by the banks to increase vevenue. We have been screaming this for over a year.

Whew! Its about time....


Michigan Family Says Obama Foreclosure-Prevention Program Cost Them Their Home

The following story is produced in partnership with The Dylan Ratigan Show's week long "No Way To Live" series on the financial crisis and its impact on ordinary Americans, and in collaboration with, which is hosting HuffPost Mortgage Modification Madness Meetups across the country, where homeowners can meet others who've had similar difficulties with lenders.

After nine months of dutifully making lowered mortgage payments under the Obama administration's foreclosure-prevention program, Bea and Terry Garwood of Pinckney, Mich., are all set to move out. Despite the promise of relief, they are losing to foreclosure the two-story house that has been their family home since 1994. They say the administration's initiative has effectively pushed them out the door.

The Garwoods are among nearly 800,000 American households that have managed to enroll in the program before failing to secure permanently lowered monthly payments. Their experience underscores why many housing experts and lawmakers have proclaimed the effort a failure. Though President Barack Obama promised it would help three to four million homeowners avoid foreclosure, only 522,000 had successfully secured so-called permanent loan modifications by the end of last year, according to the Treasury Department.

More homeowners have actually been bounced from the program than have been helped, the data show. Despite widespread anticipation that foreclosures will only accelerate in 2011, breaking a record set last year, the number of new borrowers entering the program has been slowing to a trickle: Most of the potential new applicants lack sufficient income to qualify for lowered payments. The program was designed to help people confronting mortgages whose low promotional interest rates give way to much more expensive terms, and not for the circumstances at hand, with holders of traditional loans losing jobs and income.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the HAMP program was never intended as a cure-all for the foreclosure crisis. "It wasn't designed to prevent every foreclosure," said the spokeswoman, Andrea Risotto.

The Garwoods--who live with their two children, a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son--complain that they wasted their money making payments on a trial basis, hoping this would deliver permanent relief, only to find themselves on the verge of losing their home of more than 16 years.

"I feel like I am in hell," said Bea Garwood, 41, who works as an accountant at the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor. "The last thing we ever, ever wanted was this to happen. We don't even want to be there no more. We don't feel comfortable no more. We don't feel like it's our place."

The Garwoords' experience with their bank - the unexplained delays; the conflicting advice; the lost documents; the difficulty in finding a human being to talk to, let alone one familiar with their case; the inexplicable fees and letters of rejection - is familiar to millions of homeowners who have sought mortgage modifications either through HAMP or a bank's own program. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with homeowners over the past two years, a strikingly clear picture emerges of the similarities between the many experiences of homeowners that are unique only in their details. A homeowner lost in the maze of a bank's phone system may feel alone but, in reality, is lost with millions of others. To connect homeowners who've had similar trouble with their banks, HuffPost is teaming with and MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan to launch Mortgage Madness Meetups across the country. Get a Meetup in your neighborhood going here.
Last week, Republicans in the House introduced a bill that would end the program, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Though few observers anticipate the measure has any real chance of becoming law, Democrats are hardly eager to defend it. In a written statement, the administration said homeowners would suffer if Congress repealed the program, but the President made no mention of it in his recent State of the Union address.

Obama's initiative enables homeowners to lower their monthly payment by decreasing the interest rate on their mortgage, extending the life of the loan, and, in some cases, deferring large amounts of principal to the end of the loan. But the program depends upon the cooperation of mortgage companies, whose participation is voluntary. The institutions that collect monthly mortgage payments--servicers, in industry parlance--control the process through which homeowners receive assistance, under contracts with the Treasury. In return for incentive payments, banks administer the program and try to place homeowners in new mortgages to avoid foreclosure.

Many homeowners who have tried to avail themselves of the relief program complain that they have fallen prey to a never-ending run-around in which they are frequently told they qualify for debt relief, then make on-time payments and submit the necessary paperwork, only to eventually be informed that their payments have been lost or their documents never received. Finally, they are kicked out of the program, with their houses placed in foreclosure.

A federal auditor noted in October that the program's drawn-out trial modifications waste the resources of homeowners who have no shot at securing permanent relief, leaving them with "more principal outstanding on their loans, less home equity (or a position further 'underwater'), and worse credit scores."

"Even in circumstances where they never missed a payment," the report added, "they may face back payments, penalties, and even late fees that suddenly become due on their 'modified' mortgages and that they are unable to pay, thus resulting in the very loss of their homes that HAMP is meant to prevent."

That is precisely what the Garwoods say happened to them.

The Garwoods say they never even asked for a loan modification, but applied only after their bank, JPMorgan Chase, contacted them in early 2009 and identified them as ideal candidates. According to the Garwoods, the bank noticed that they were one month behind on their mortgage, owing to the seasonal nature of Terry Garwood's roofing business.

Chase, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the family's history, but noted that it has willingly postponed planned sheriff's sales of their home pending resolution.

"We try to help homeowners stay in their homes whenever possible through programs like HAMP and our own modification programs," said the Chase spokesman, Tom Kelly. "We have helped nearly 500,000 families avoid foreclosure."

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AdvertisementUnder the program rules, homeowners who are delinquent or at risk of falling behind on their mortgages are eligible for lowered payments if their current monthly payments amount to more than 31 percent of their existing income. Chase put the Garwoods in a trial plan that saved them about $500 per month.

Homeowners that succeed in making three timely trial payments and are then able to document their continued eligibility are supposed to be approved for permanent modifications. But last March, after making trial payments for nine months, the Garwoods say they received a letter from the bank informing them that they had been rejected for a permanent modification. Worse, the bank said they now owed an additional $12,000--the difference between their reduced payments under HAMP and what they would have been paying without it, plus fees. If they failed to pay, the result would be foreclosure, Chase said.

Since then, the fees and arrears have only multiplied. According to the Garwoods, Chase now demands $26,000 to catch up--a number far from the realm of possibility. They say they have enough to move into a rented apartment, but nowhere near enough to settle the account.

The Garwoods owe roughly $140,000 on their mortgage, and similar homes in their neighborhood are going for about $100,000. That places them among the one-fourth of all American mortgage-holders who are underwater, meaning they owe the bank more than their home is worth. Researchers say homeowners who fall underwater are significantly more likely to default on their mortgage.

The administration's program, though, was not designed to address this. Experts say the only way to give underwater borrowers an incentive to keep making payments is to cut the size of their loan principal to restore their ownership stake. The average homeowner with a permanent HAMP modification owes $1.18 on their mortgage for every $1 their home is worth, according to the Treasury Department. Most HAMP modifications push borrowers even deeper under water by tacking on late fees and delinquent payments to their overall mortgage, raising the total amount due.

Meanwhile, home prices are falling, adding momentum for more defaults, more foreclosures and--completing a feedback loop--further drops in home values. Fitch Ratings, one of the three major credit rating agencies, forecasts a 10 percent decline in home values this year.

Experts criticize the Obama administration for declining to pressure mortgage companies to write down the value of outstanding home mortgages, which has left homeowners in untenable positions while shielding lenders from losses they would otherwise have to absorb.

"HAMP is a failure," said Joshua Rosner, managing director at independent research consultancy Graham Fisher & Co., adding that the only way to transform it into a meaningful support for homeowners is to shrink principal balances.

The Garwoods say their experience has been bewildering. Every week, says Terry Garwood, 39, a different Chase representative calls him with a different account on the status of his application.

"They call and leave numbers to extensions that don't exist," he said. "You can't talk to anybody. You can't get anywhere with these people."

Even as he has made payments on time on a trial basis, he complains, Chase has reported him to credit agencies as delinquent.

"I didn't know I was getting a black spot on my credit," he said. "It completely destroyed my credit and the chances of owning a home or buying a car."

The Garwoods have not made a mortgage payment since last spring, when they were confronted with the ultimatum--hand over money they do not have or submit to foreclosure. Now, they are preparing to pack up and move into a nearby apartment. But when they will have to leave remains as uncertain as every aspect of their frustrating experience with their bank.

"It's got to be borderline criminal," said Terry Garwood. "Basically it allowed them to steal my house from me."