Wells Fargo, one of the biggest banks in the U.S., has been at the epicenter of Wall Street malfeasance over the last several years, with its fingerprints all over the housing crisis and the subsequent foreclosure fraud scandal. As Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith put it, Wells Fargo “has an annoying habit of piously claiming it is better than other servicers when it engages in the same indefensible conduct as its peers.”
Earlier this year, a judge blasted the bank’s foreclosure process, saying, that it “prefers to rely on the ignorance of borrowers or their inability to fund a challenge to its demands, rather than voluntarily relinquish gains obtained through improper accounting methods.” Now, the bank has left a family’s vacation home in ruins, after a contractor it hired broke in and stole the family’s belongings due to a mistaken foreclosure filing:
A local couple’s dreams have been shattered by a foreclosure mistake that left their retirement home in ruins.
When banks take over foreclosed homes, they often try to salvage the contents inside to recoup their losses. But what if they have no right to those contents in the first place? Alvin Tjosaas says that scenario is all too real for him. [...]
The house recently had valuables stored in the garage, including decades worth of family heirlooms. But the house was in ruins after Tjosaas says subcontractors hired by Wells Fargo entered the property with a foreclosure notice in hand. The notice had the name Stephen A. Janosik on it, but the address for the Tjosaas family home…Tjosaas says the subcontractors broke down doors, smashed windows, tore down walls, taking anything of value to sell later on.
Wells Fargo said in a statement after the fact, “We are deeply sorry for the very personal losses the Tjosaas family suffered as a result of their home being mistakenly secured and entered by an outside party hired to address a different nearby property. We are moving quickly to reach out to the Tjosaas family to resolve this unfortunate situation in an attempt to right this wrong.”
Wells Fargo is not the only bank to pull this particular trick: Bank of America once padlocked the wrong house due to a document error, stealing a woman’s pet parrot in the process. But this episode shows that, as much as the biggest banks have promised to clean up their act, the foreclosure process is still badly broken and marred with errors.