Delay and Deny — What Former BofA Employees Were Told to Do With Requests for Mortgage Modifications

Affidavits from six former Bank of America employees say that the Bank required or incentivized employees to lie, falsify records, and more in order to deny borrowers loan modifications they were entitled to under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP), pushing them into foreclosure or less affordable modifications. Pro Publica first reported on the affidavits on June 14th. Some notable excerpts follow:

Simone Gordon, loss mitigation representative:

“We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested, and that it had not received trial payments (when in fact it had).”

“Employees who were caught admitting that Bank of America had received financial documents or that the borrower was actually entitled to a permanent loan modification were disciplined and often terminated without warning.”

“Employees were rewarded for meeting a quota of placing a specific number of accounts into foreclosure, including accounts in which the borrower fulfilled a HAMP Trial Period Plan. For example, a Collector who placed ten or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus. Bank of America also gave employee gift cards to retail stores like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond as reward for placing accounts into foreclosure.”

“We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the Bank by festering and extending delay of the HAMP modification process by any means we could — this included by lying to customers.”

Theresa Terrelonge, loan servicing representative:

“Based on what I observed, Bank of America was trying to prevent as many homeowners as possible from obtaining permanent HAMP loan modifications while leading the public and the government to believe that it was making efforts to comply with HAMP.”

“Bank of America often avoided extending HAMP modifications by sending non-HAMP modifications to homeowners who had applied for a HAMP modification….I fielded dozens of calls from homeowners who had waited months for a HAMP modification and were confused, and often in tears, when they received a modification that appeared nothing like what they were led to expect.”

Erika Brown, Customer Service Representative:

“Bank of America regularly ignored completed loan modifications and did not treat the loan as having been modified in its computer system….[They] continued to send delinquency notices, continued to report homeowners as delinquent to credit reporting agencies, and pursued foreclosure. I saw multiple instances of people who had lost their homes to foreclosure despite having fulfilled all requirements of their Trial Period Plans.”

“Bank of America’s practice is to string homeowners along with no apparent intention of providing the permanent loan modifications it promises. The processes Bank of America uses, and the instructions it gives its employees, appear to be designed to avoid modifying mortgage loans.”

William Wilson, Underwriter and Case Management Team Manager:

“During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time for no reason other than that the documents were more than 60 days old. Bank of America instructed its CRMs, underwriters, and other employees to enter a reason that would justify declining the modification to the Treasury Department. “We were instructed to delay and then push homeowners to accept an internal refinance so that Bank of America would profit.”

Steven Cupples, Underwriter and Team Leader:

“Employees who challenged or questioned the ethics of Bank of America’s practice of declining modifications for false and fraudulent reasons were often fired.” — Steven Cupples

Bert Sheeks, loan servicing representative for Urban Settlement Services, a mortgage default servicer contracted by Bank of America:

“The Urban department at which I worked was daily given a grid consisting of hundreds or even thousands of files with instructions to close the files. Our job was to find any pretext in the file to justify closing — whether or not it was justified.”