Michael and Pamella Negrea have never been late on a mortgage payment in the 15 years they've owned their home in Eastlake. But they've been foreclosed on three times.
Martin and Kirsten Davis, meanwhile, lost their home in Cleveland to foreclosure two years ago. The reason: a mess that started when they accidentally paid 14 cents too little on their monthly payment.
And Michael Rendes of Berea had his mortgage sold last year to Bank of America. The bank foreclosed on him in November, after insisting for months that it didn't hold his loan and wouldn't accept his payments.
Tales like these portray the ugly side of the world of mortgage finance, a world embroiled in controversy amid claims of fraudulently signed foreclosure documents. As a result, many major banks have suspended foreclosures; state and federal officials are launching investigations; and experts everywhere fear this could wallop the limping economy again.
Indeed, the possibility that bank employees illegally "robo-signed" thousands of foreclosures without even reading the information shows the production-line mentality not just of foreclosures, but of the entire mortgage process. It's as simple as this: Many banks during the last decade or so have approved, closed, bought, sold and traded mortgages like baseball cards at a pace so dizzying that they couldn't keep up with their customers, payments or foreclosures.
Now, it's possible that thousands or even millions could have lost their homes in error.
Oh I know. "All these people are deadbeats living in their homes for free! They're all cheating the system while you worked hard to keep your home! You should be outraged at these people! They're all welfare cheats living off of taxpayer money! The free market would never allow this to happen! We want our money and those homes are rightfully ours!"
Sure they are. And they have the fake paperwork to "prove" it, and enough of Congress in their pockets in order to make this happen. Worst case scenario is the banks get TARP 2, and all these people get foreclosed on anyway, and our economy takes a double tap right to the frontal lobe.
They're about to get away with it yet again, folks. And nobody gives a damn.