Throughout the stories I’ve read about the foreclosure fraud mishegas, the common thread has been that it’s all just a problem of improper paperwork, and that people losing their homes are just deadbeats anyway so who cares, really, as shown in this quote by Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan:
“We’re not evicting people who deserve to stay in their house,” James Dimon, J.P. Morgan chief executive, told analysts Wednesday.
Of course, Dimon is full of shit, as we have seen here and here. The Banksters will tell you that these stories are just examples of isolated incidents, to be expected when so many people are having problems making their monthly payments. But the Banksters have found a new way of screwing people out of their homes, and it has nothing to do with missed mortgage payments and faulty paperwork:
Nearly a dozen major banks and hedge funds, anticipating quick profits from homeowners who fall behind on property taxes, are quietly plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into businesses that collect the debts, tack on escalating fees and threaten to foreclose on the homes of those who fail to pay.
The Wall Street investors, which include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have purchased from local governments the right to collect delinquent taxes on several hundred thousand properties, many in distressed housing markets, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found.
In many cases, the banks and hedge funds created new companies to do their bidding. They gave the companies obscure, even whimsical names and used post office boxes as their addresses, masking Wall Street’s dominant new role as a surrogate tax collector.
In exchange for paying overdue real estate taxes, the investors gain legal powers from local governments to collect the debt and levy fees. At first, property owners may owe little more than a few hundred dollars, only to find their bills soaring into the thousands. In some jurisdictions, the new Wall Street tax collectors also chase debtors over other small bills, such as for water, sewer and sidewalk repair.Some states allow the investors to tack on as much as 18 percent interest and a passel of legal fees and other charges. When property owners fail to make full payment, the investors can sue to foreclose – in some states within as little as six months.
Yes, Mr. Dimon, your company is in the business of fucking people out of their homes for unpaid water bills. You and you fellow Banksters are the worst kind of predators, preying on people who are struggling to keep up with their monthly payments, and taking advantage of the economic calamity faced by so many municipalities by assuming duties usually intended only for governments. Worse, many of the companies doing this are the same ones that were bailed out by taxpayer money after their greed threatened to take down the U.S. economic system:
Five big banks involved in the industry, known as tax lien investing, collected a total of more than $106 billion in bailout money through the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.
Over the last year, Bank of America, which received $45 billion in these taxpayer funds in 2008 and 2009, has bought liens on properties in scores of municipalities in at least a dozen states. Bank of America repaid the government in 2009.
Still, noted Cox: “There’s no bailout for people struggling to pay their taxes.”
No, there isn’t, is there? The little people who can’t pay their bills because they’ve lost their jobs or are having to deal with astronomical health care costs have to suck it up and pay the consequences for being powerless, since anything else would be transferring “moral hazard” from the Banksters to the people actually affected by the Banksters’ shenanigans:
Jamie Dimon and the other mega-bankers who derailed the economy have a new PR campaign to sell you. They’re saying that families who can’t pay their mortgages must bear the blame — all the blame — for the foreclosure crisis. That means the public should just ignore banks’ widespread lawbreaking in the registering and transfer of property titles. For the bankers who would appoint themselves the nation’s moral arbiters, It’s always somebody else’s fault.
Not that we should be surprised. After all, the Mortgage Bankers Association, which calls itself “the voice of the real estate finance industry,” did a short sale on its Washington DC headquarters which left CEO John Courson uncharacteristically speechless. It seems he didn’t want to talk about how he walked away from the loans he took out to buy that building. But before the cat got his tongue, Courson managed to lecture homeowners on their “legal obligation” and the terrible “message they would send” by walking away from their mortgages.
Morality and law for thee, but none for me…
The bankers have benefited from a stacked deck, or what’s known as “moral hazard.” That’s the term for what happens when people don’t bother protecting themselves from risk because they know somebody else will take care of it for them. The banks are saying they’ve been reasonable business partners, giving their borrowers all the information they need to make good decisions while asking no special favors for themselves. Does that sound right? We created the “Home Loan Blame Game Scorecard,” which is at the end of this post, to find out.
As CEO of JPMorgan Chase, you’d think that Jamie Dimon might hesitate before saying “We’re not evicting people who deserve to stay in their house.” His argument rests on the idea that homeowners bear sole responsibility for taking out loans they couldn’t repay. He might be shocked, shocked, to learn that his own employees have relentlessly been trying to push these loans on people…
The “blame homeowners” argument is hypocritical, but it’s been effective. It helped bankers get themselves massive bailouts, pay themselves huge bonuses, and walk away with the profits they made by selling and trading these mortgages at inflated prices. And it’s helped them avoid having to write down their books to reflect the actual, reduced value of the assets they’re holding. That means millions of homeowners are propping them up by paying mortgages at property values that the banks themselves artificially inflated.
Now they want to use the same argument to get around the fact that they’ve been breaking property laws on a massive scale for years. It’s just “paperwork,” they say. But any homeowner who filed false affidavits – a crime that’s legally equivalent to perjury – would be looking at jail time. Remember: Law and morality for thee …
Again, none of these people are in jail; in most cases, none of them have been fired, and they’re all making really good money in spite of their malfeasance, and are expecting even more. I’m still waiting for Republicans, the Tea Partiers, or anyone for that matter, to start focusing their anger on these bloodsucking leeches. But then, why should they, when deadbeat homeowners, welfare queens, and lazy unemployed layabouts like me are far easier, and powerless, targets.
Come the revolution, people like Jamie Dimon are going to be the first up against the wall.