Homeowner advocates go after Wells Fargo’s bottom line

June 24, 2013

Laurel Greenstein attempts to enter a Wells Fargo branch in Hollywood to close her account in protest of the bank’s foreclosure practices. Greenstein’s home was foreclosed upon by the bank. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

A Wells Fargo & Co. branch in Hollywood locked its doors on the afternoon of Saturday, June 22 when faced by a group of foreclosed homeowners and their supporters.

The homeowners wanted to close their accounts in an act of protest against the bank’s foreclosure practices. They took turns sharing their foreclosure stories while demanding bank employees grant their entrance.

“I was surprised when Wells Fargo started foreclosure proceedings,” said Laurel Greenstein. “It turns out my mortgage payments were not being counted as payments; they were being counted as ‘miscellaneous applied funds.’”

Greenstein, who owned her Woodland Hills home for 25 years, was first told the accounting change was a computer glitch and to ignore it. When she asked for this in writing, she said she was routinely referred to other bank employees to fulfill her request.

“Finally, one the people told me that what I was sending every month were ‘gifts to the bank,’” she said.

Greenstein accuses Wells Fargo’s attorneys of submitting false documents to the court saying that she had transferred ownership of her home.

“Move your money out of Wells Fargo; start today, do it now,” she said.

“Too big to fail; too big to prosecute,” shouts Artist Alex Schaefer to passersby while wearing his creation, “The Mad Bankster.” (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

In May, Wells Fargo spokesperson Gary Kishner told LA Activist that the bank’s foreclosure rate in California is minuscule, a little over one percent. He said foreclosures hurt banks too.

“Our primary goal is to work with our customers and keep them in their homes,” he said. “We don’t benefit from foreclosure. It costs the banks a lot of money to foreclose on a house.”

However, when a bank is acting as a mortgage servicer, the situation changes. Often it is more profitable for a mortgage servicer to foreclose because of how mortgage-backed securities are structured.

Harolyn Rhue, who recently lost her home in a foreclosure with Wells Fargo, speaks to demonstrators. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

The protest was organized by Occupy Fights Foreclosures, an Occupy Los Angeles subcommittee that has been assisting homeowners against what they say are fraudulent banking practices. Occupy Fights Foreclosures, or OFF, has been staging several protests at various banks since forming in late 2011. They have conducted several Occupy-style demonstrations where activists barricade foreclosed homes from police and mortgage servicers while homeowners try to save their homes through direct negotiations or through the court system.

Saturday’s action is part of a larger campaign to get customers to withdraw their money from Wells Fargo and into a community bank or credit union.

“Wells Fargo has been one of the most predatory lenders and abusers in this foreclosure crisis,” said Carlos Marroquin, an OFF organizer.

In May, New York state’s attorney general announced plans to sue Wells Fargo, as well as Bank of America, over allegedly violating the terms of last year’s mortgage settlement. The $25 billion-dollar settlement involved five of the nation’s major banks over fraudulent foreclosure practices.

On the federal level, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo in October 2012. The suit alleges the bank received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal Housing Administration for insurance claims on foreclosures based on false certifications.

“They claim that they have spent billions of dollars in helping homeowners stay in their homes, which is to the contrary,” said Marroquin. “We know that Wells Fargo is not helping people.”


Related articles:

1. May 2, 2013: Wells Fargo gets an angry May Day visit from homeowner advocates

2. April 24, 2013: Anti-eviction advocates open foreclosed home for owner

3. January 4, 2013: Loan mods link homes in foreclosure revolt

4. December 23, 2012: Occupiers open up foreclosed home for owner

5. October 29, 2012: Fort Hernandez barricade torn down by city

6. October 22, 2013: Foreclosure revolt spreads to East LA

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2 Responses to Homeowner advocates go after Wells Fargo’s bottom line

  1. Jeannine B Madsen on August 19, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Extremely unfair, lost house to Wells Fargo, no loan mod…They make me sick!!!

  2. pierre antoine on September 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    On Dec 28,2012,I called Well Fargo to apply for streamlines refinance,or loan modification.Was denied because I had one past two years.The Wells Fargo’s loan officer asked me “why do want tomodify your loan”I said my wife plan to go to school,so I will be struggling to make my monthly payments.The loan officer told me that Wells Fargo has a program which call forbearance.And asked how this program helps me.He said” this program will help catch up with bills,but it last for six months,however you need to pay in full the balance of the partial payments at the end of the forbearance.” In addition,he told me if you unable to make the full payment we will see what other programs that you may qualify for.willing not to be in default with the forbearance term, one month it ended,I called Wells fargo to find out what program will I be eligible for.I was told to wait until the program is completed.Prior the end of the program,I mailed my last check. As soon as Wells Fargo received my check, one of customers service asked me to provide my home expenses,so I did.Two days later,A loan officer from Wells fargo informed me.” based on my wife and I’S income,I’ain’t qualified for any of their programs.So one week followed the end forbearance, I received a note of $ 3,700.00 to pay.Since I wasn’tbe able to make the payment on the date requested,my home went to foreclosure.To me,I felt being abused and misinformed,because Iwasn’t told that faillure to pay in full the balance of the forbearance my home will be going to foreclosure.So I really need to file a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for misleading homeowners.

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