Scams

Foreclosure is not a fun process.

Losing your house for any reason is a stressful, disheartening experience. And banks are notoriously difficult to deal with. Mainly because they’re not really interested in working out a deal with you. Especially if you have equity in your house.

That being said, I’m greatly amused by people who get the better end of the foreclosure process, especially when it comes to Bank of America. (I’m not a big fan of Bank of America – I have my reasons…)

Bank of America filed for foreclosure on a house in Florida, about six months ago. The strange thing was that the homeowners, Mr & Mrs. Nyergers, owned their home free and clear. They had bought their house with cash. They had never had a mortgage on it.

In court the judge found the bank wrongfully tried to foreclose on them. Basically he said BofA was trying to scam them out of their home, and ordered the bank to pay their legal fees.

So how did the couple end up foreclosing on the bank?

After more than 5 months of the judge’s ruling, the bank still hadn’t paid the legal fees, and the homeowner’s attorney did exactly what the bank tried to do to the homeowners. He seized the bank’s assets.

According to CBS, the attorney said, “They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated.”

Sheriff’s deputies, movers, and the Nyergers’ attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller’s drawers.

After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees.

“As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice” said Allen.

The unfortunate sad part is that bank errors like this are quite common.

The couple’s foreclosure attorney said he sees happen a lot in court, because banks didn’t investigate the foreclosure and it becomes a lengthy and expensive battle for the homeowner.

At least this story had a happy ending.

angelo-mozilo-head-of-countrywide-financialAngelo Mozilo, former CEO of CountryWide Financial was fined $67.5 million to settle charges of insider trading and civil fraud. Of this, $45 million or 66% will be paid by Bank of America, who acquired the toxic asset and must now indemnify the former head. As I mentioned back in early 2007, CountryWide insiders were dumping stock as fast as they while simultaneously publicly pumping it. Mozillo made about $134 million from insider trading and then another $100 million on the sale of the company to Bank of America. Having profited over $200 million, being fined a mere $22.5 million doesn’t seem like much of a punishment.

Of course, being a CEO of a major US financial institution seems to provide immunity against any wrongdoing.  Now and then, the SEC will prosecute someone to make an example of them, but the most part you can get away with far more than the average white collar criminal.

Meanwhile, Bank of America’s stock has been whacked this year, down 20% year to date. If Bank of America really did buy Countrywide for the tax losses, this investment just got better!

I recently got an email from a reader that I think I should share with you. It involves a new kind of scam and you need to be aware of it.

Hi: I have a question regarding real estate fraud. I have an ad on a website selling my property (for OVER $550K) online. The web co. forwards me an email from someone named Dr. Earl Spencer inquiring if the property is still available. It is.

He then wants maps and info about the area. I send them to [email protected] . Then he says I should consider the property sold and he wants my HELOC account number to send a wire transfer for the funds to purchase.

My next email was to inform him that all transactions were to take place thru my attorney; but his email address was closed. Next morning he CALLS me to say that he’s emailed me with another address to send him the account information. I told him that I reported him as a spammer to the listing website, and they were banning his email address from their site.

His next email address comes to me RIGHT THRU their website again: [email protected] . (He claims that the first web closed down and this was his work email. He still wants my HELOC account number or I should run to the bank quickly and open one. He obviously didn’t get my last email about working through my lawyer.

Then he says that his client is very happy with the property and is willing to pay $600,000 us dollars for it ($25,000 more than I was asking), and he wanted to wire $1 million into my account and use the $400,000 that was left to pay for renovations on the property and to pay the man I talked to and was emailing me, because he was the real estate agent. I then sent him my lawyer’s name, address, and phone number, thinking that would get rid of him; but he emailed me this morning saying his client was delighted and needed the email address of my lawyer so he could start the contract proceedure and then move to the wire transfer. My lawyer thought he was scammer the first time I talked to her; she was not available today. My bank has assured me that you cannot wire money “into” a heloc account that was opened for only 1/10th of what he wants to put in there.

What do I do with this guy now? i’m kind of thinking my lawyer doesn’t want to deal with this, period.

I need your opinion on this. I feel he is a scammer, but I have no experience with this kind of thing. Do you think there is any chance of him being legit.? His wording and mis-spellings were very un- professional. What do I do now. And who do I report him to? I gave him no information, and no wire tranfers have taken place, SO TECHNICALLY THERE WAS NO FAUD COMMITTED…YET.. Thank you for your time.

This is a scam. There is absolutely no chance in hell of him being legit.

Legitimate buyers want to see a property, want to check title, want title insurance and they want to go through a legitimate escrow company or attorney. Never give out details of you bank account or lines of credit (secured or unsecured) to anyone via email EVER. And never to anyone you don’t know.

This is similar to a scam on ebay. The winner of an auction will send you a cashiers check for twice the item (usually an expensive item) and the suspecting honest buyer will send the item and the extra money back. A month later the bank notifies that the check was fraudulent and takes the full amount out of your account. So now you’ve lost the item and the extra money!

I recently got an email that appeared to be from Monster.com, but it wasn’t. Apparently they found my email from Monster.com and had a ‘transfer manager’ position
for me. They have clients in the US (they’re based out of the UK) and since they can’t wire money to them, they’d wire it to me and I’d re-wire it out to the company. I basically should email my bank account information to them along with a copy of my drivers license and I’d get to keep 10% of the money their clients sent through me. Yeah right!

Today, the only people who can’t do international wires are people who sell illegal narcotics. Even illegal aliens can send money back to their countries through Western Union.

I contacted Monster.com and they confirmed it was a fraudulent email. They also sent me a link to the FBI’s website for reporting such cases of fraud. Unfortunately I deleted it, but this is a serious matter and you should always report it. Remember
there are gullible people who unfortunately fall victim to these sort of crimes every day.

You can get a list of common frauds on the FBI site.

Don’t let the bad guys get away. You can and should report all internet-related crimes here
http://www.ic3.gov/.