A decade ago when I was under the impression that I might actually make a difference as a member of the local high school district board of trustees, I had the displeasure of meeting a lawyer for Wells Fargo, a newly-elected cretin who I suspect had a problem with his remarkably small hands and feet and other appendages he thankfully didn’t share with the rest of us.
When the banks nearly blew up the country, I thought of this guy. I hoped he’d be indicted or, at least, disbarred, but so far no luck with that. Sometimes justice is elusive.
I thought of the fucker again this morning when I read the story in the Guardian, the tale of a bank and two of its many victims. Wells Fargo again. This time, they murdered someone.
The coroner will say it was suicide because Norman Rousseau shot himself in the head, but it was Wells Fargo which loaded the gun.
This American success story begins in 1997, when Norman met Oriane at a country and western bar. Love at first sight, says Oriane. They loved music and dancing and, as it happens, each other. They saved their money and bought a house. The mortgage was held by Wachovia.
In October, 2007, a Wachovia loan officer approached the couple with a proposal that they refinance. Property values were increasing, he said, and they could lower their monthly payments. It sounded like a good idea.
In May of 2009, however, they received a letter from the bank telling them that they had missed the April payment. It was not true. The Rousseaus in fact had a receipt from a bank teller –– they were making payments in person –– which they faxed to the bank. The bank ignored it.
The Rousseaus hired a lawyer to review the situation, including the refinancing loan, and found many irregularities, including an overestimate of their income made not by them but by the bank’s loan officer.
So, you might think, the bank had made an error and would gracefully back off. The Rousseaus had made the April payment and were current; they kept faxing copies of the April receipt. But that is not what happened. Wachovia collections agents were phoning them as often as eight times a day. They began to receive letters threatening foreclosure. Eventually, one bank employee talked them into applying for a loan modification.
It didn’t seem to matter what the truth was. Every time the couple tried to speak with someone at the bank they got a different person. No one they spoke with seemed to have access to their file. Most of the time, they didn’t even have last names. And the bank would not correct its records. More information was required, the bank kept saying, even though the requested documents had already been sent multiple times.
The Rousseaus continued to make their payments. In September, however, the bank refused to accept payment in person. By December, it refused to accept checks by mail, saying their loan modification request was still under review.
In May of 2010, Wachovia told the Rousseaus they were not eligible for a modification and demanded the sum of $17,000.00, which included payments the bank had earlier refused as well as the April, 2009, payment actually made. A new lawyer got the couple a reinstatement arrangement, however on November 17, 2010, they were notified that they now owed in excess of $26,000.00, including $4,000.00 in late fees.
They were told they had two days in which to pay. Incredibly, by trying to drain their retirement savings, they nearly made it, but they were stopped due to the limits imposed on cash withdrawals.
On November 22, 2010, Wells Fargo acquired title to their house.
Throughout all of 2011, the Rousseaus fought to recover their home. In July, they obtained an injunction enabling them to hang on if they made payments of $1,800.00, but by now they were in deep trouble. Norman had lost his job and their savings had been wiped out. The legal fees and penalties had overtaken them. In December, 2011, they couldn’t manage the payment.
Wells Fargo took them to court and got a lockout date of May 15, 2012.
On May 12, in a last-ditch attempt to keep a roof over their heads, Norman bought an old motor home, but the engine wouldn’t work and he couldn’t figure out how to fix it.
On the morning of May 13, twelve days ago, Norman Rousseau finally gave up. He shot himself. Oriane was in the kitchen when she heard the sound.
Wells Fargo says it’s not to blame. “We tried repeatedly to find affordable options for the family,” a bank public relations whore told the media. The bank is continuing the foreclosure process against Oriane, although it temporarily suspended proceedings. I guess May 15th was a little too close. Oriane is staying in a motel, thanks to charity funds. She has no place to go.
I don’t know what it will take for someone in this country to finally go after these bastards. I don’t know what it will take to get us off our game-show-sucking asses. I don’t know what it will take to send these ugly, despicable excuses for human beings straight to hell, but I hope we find out.