Archive for Bank of America

So Corporations Are People, My Friends. Visiting Day In Prison Is Sunday

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corporations are people

Back in the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney made a bit of a splash when he said, "Corporations are people, my friend."

He of course was jeered as we think of corporations as entities, with people working under that business umbrella. But what if Romney was right? What if corporations are people?

If they break the law, shouldn't they go to jail?

If you're a people/person you would. So why not corporations? The Hill:

Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase tentatively reached a deal with the Justice Department to pay $13 billion to settle charges it misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about mortgage quality leading up to the financial crisis. And Bloomberg reported that the Federal Housing Finance Agency is eyeing at least a $6 billion penalty for Bank of America for similar claims.

Okay, so the JPMorgan Chase corporation admitted wrongdoing -- breaking the law -- and they are going to pay a fine. But the crime was committed by people, not a building, and with it carries a jail sentence. So who's going to serve? Jamie Dimon? He's the CEO. He knew what was going on.

jamie dimon

Nope. No jail time for Jamie. Just a fine. And we, the public are paying it  for him.

Reform advocates argue that if the government truly wants to discourage bad behavior in the financial sector, it is not enough to rack up billion-dollar fines against big banks. The government needs to go after individual executives and hold them personally responsible.

Consider this, if the banks are forced to accept responsibility, than instead of us paying the fines with increased fees, their law-breaking executives will be doing time. The guilty will be penalized, not us. No more passing the buck, so to speak.

Fortunately, there is a voice who is speaking up for us. And her voice is that of the MGM lion that roars. It's Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to financial regulators Wednesday where she not too subtly chided them for what she saw as lacking enforcement.

She noted in her letter that the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) had managed to secure over 100 criminal convictions between 2009 and 2012 and place 51 defendants in prison.

She also noted the agency did it with a fraction of the enforcement staff and budget the other regulators enjoyed. Warren clearly wanted to know why more convictions had not been pursued and achieved (by the DOJ), and asked for enforcement statistics from the agencies.

So SIGTARP could do what the DOJ couldn't. And this is very important to deter further frauds and money manipulations. We can't stand by and keep bailing out the banks who knowingly gamble with our money, take exorbitant salaries and bonuses (win or lose) and then stick us with the bill, either in a federal bailout or raised banking fees.

If they can't run themselves, let them fail. And jail the gamblers who broke the law. Other banks and financial institutions will rise up. Money isn't going away. All that will disappear will be the frauds and phonies who have stiffed us over the years. We don't need a BofA nor a JPMorgan/Chase. We can get by with local banks that can get the same fed rate as the big ones.

Doing so might also make getting a loan a lot easier when Mr. Donnelly or Mrs. Heath at the local bank, who knows you by name, is making the decision on whether or not you meet federal requirements for a loan. And those managers will appreciate your patronage -- maybe even do more business with you. That means profits and they'll go more locally or regionally.

Federal guidelines are needed and Senator Warren and her allies are working on that with the new Glass-Steagall bill.

Remember, local banks? We used to have them. And local banks mean local money. Let's break up the huge corporations that Romney claimed are really people. Let's send those people where they belong -- packing. And you don't need to take too many things, Mr./Mrs. Banker. They give you uniforms and three meals a day where you belong.

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Cost of Getting Screwed

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Whore house

Ever wonder what the heck they're talking about when you go to buy a house, lease a car, finance some other sort of purchase or get a loan? You're presented with a gobbley-gook of terms, PR, FHMR, HRL, FDR, COFI. But what the heck are they? And what do they mean for me?

This alphabet soup is the rate at which you're being screwed. Think of it this way -- you go to a whorehouse and there's a schedule. You want a quickie, you want full service, you want a brown bagger (to place over her head) or do you want the works by someone who just stepped out of the pages of Maxim? The bottom line is you're getting screwed. And regulating the rates is the job of Federal Reserve Board, the Madam who runs the whorehouse. The Best Little Whorehouse in the U.S.

So here's a short description of the rate card and what you'll get.

PR - PRIME RATE

The underlying index or benchmark for most credit cards, home equity loans and lines of credit, auto loans, and personal loans. Many small business loans are also indexed to the Prime rate. It's what the bank charges you as a starting out point. But few "Johns" get the house rate, (but it's possible assuming you have good credit). Currently those rates are from mid single digits (teaser rates -- consider it a handjob) to double digits by the time they tack on extras.

FHMR - FIXED HOME MORTGAGE RATE

This is when you're buying a house. On fixed loans, this is the prime rate plus a competitive fee -- your standard, fixed rate for your visit. Maybe it even includes a drink before and a little conversation after -- but today that goes between 4%-6%. More if you're bigger -- yes, size matters here.

HRL - HIGH RISK LOAN

The higher rate a bank charges (prime + additional profit) for riskier loans -- often considered a bribe or "juice" though they call it a "margin" to entice a bank to let you in. It's for people who don't meet stringent qualifying requirements, (like you're dirty and need a shower first). Oftentimes secured through a third party, or private equity firm. You'd expect to pay more for a threesome. The sky's the limit here when you add in your carrying charges. You can often do better with a Shylock.

FDR -FEDERAL DISCOUNT RATE

The primary tool used to influence interest rates and the economy. It's the interest rate at which an eligible financial institution may borrow funds directly from a Federal Reserve bank. Basically it's what the bank pays to borrow the money they loan to you. This is the cut the Madam pays her girls.

COFI - COST OF FUNDS INDEX

Generally used for buying a house with a variable/adjustable interest rate loan. Cost-of-funds index (COFI) reflecting the weighted-average interest rate paid by 11th Federal Home Loan Bank District savings institutions for savings and checking accounts. The 11th district covers Arizona, California and Nevada. Think of this as the going rate you'd pay if you just stopped your car and picked up a local free-lancer or housewife hooker. If it was mutually pleasurable, the rate may come down. It not, it may go up. There's a roll of the dice as well as a roll in the hay involved in this one.

Okay, now you know what these terms mean. Examine your various loans and credit cards and look at what you're paying. Then deduct from that the cost of the Fed borrowing which your institution (madam) is paying, (as of July 2, 2013 it's 0.75%) figure a little something for operating costs (clean sheets) -- (double it to 1.50%). Then toss in some profit - the girls aren't doing it just for their exercise, (double it again to 3.0%). Anything over that is what it's costing you to get screwed.  So, grab yourself... a calculator (get your minds out of the gutter) and figure out if you're getting the quickie, the full service or the Maxim model?

And always remember to bring your protection -- a printout of the current rates so you'll know if and how you're getting "F'd" over.

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Man Who Scrawled Chalk Protests on Sidewalk Against Big Banks Faces Possible Prison

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sidewalk chalk not a crime

Photo via Occupy UCI

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Jeff Olson, 40, of San Diego is currently on trial for writing messages on sidewalks protesting big banks and their predatory practices.  Olson used water soluble chalk to express his advocacy on public walkways in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Yes, by water soluble it means that when it rains or is hosed down the chalk dissolves.

Months after he finished chalking his protests, he was charged with 13 misdemeanors that could, conceivably, land him in jail for nearly 13 years.

The trial, which is now underway, allegedly resulted from the contracted head of security for Bank of America in San Diego, Darell Freeman, leaning on his apparent former colleagues in the SD police department. Paige Hazard, deputy city attorney, informed Bank of America's local security chief of the charges against Olsonafter a prosecution referral was received from -- get this -- the city's gang crimes unit. [...]

If Bank of America feels that it suffered "real and substantial monetary" damages as a result of Olson's scrawls, let them prove it. [...]

If you wonder about how far the apparatus of the state has crossed over into protecting wealth over protecting constitutional rights, look no further than the case of Jeff Olson.

A San Diego television station reported this chilling twist to the opening of the trial on June 26:

During pre-trial motions prosecutors introduced a motion to prohibit Olson’s defense attorney Tom Tosdal from using the words First Amendment, free speech, free expression and other similar terms during the trial. The judge agreed saying jurors should focus on whether Olson committed vandalism and not why he did it.

This is happening in a court of law? The protection of banks from chalk scrawlings supercedes the Constitution? [...]

The presiding judge in this farce of a trial -- and a waste of taxpayer dollars on prosecution -- issued a gag order on Thursday for the defendant and almost everybody but himself.  The clearly pro-bankster jurist even rebuked the mayor of San Diego for calling the trial a waste of time. [...]

As one commenter noted in the June 27 San Diego Reader update about Judge Howard Shore's judicial stomping on the First Amendment: "Just when you think it can't get any nuttier, it does. A gag order for a misdemeanor case?"

According to another commenter, Mass. Senator Elizabeth Warren read about Olson's plight and allegedly tweeted, "You've got to be kidding me."

Please read the entire post here.

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Bank of America whistle-blower’s bombshell: “We were told to lie to customers."

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whistleblower warning

David Dayen is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He's great at his job, so I suggest following him on Twitter, as I do, at @ddayen.

He has a bombshell piece up at Salon that is a must-read:

Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, and paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure: Yes, these allegations were suspected by any homeowner who ever had to deal with the bank to try to get a loan modification – but now they come from six former employees and one contractor, whose sworn statements were added last week to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts. [...]

These Bank of America employees offer the first glimpse into how they pulled it off. Employees, many of whom allege they were given no basic training on how to even use HAMP, were instructed to tell borrowers that documents were incomplete or missing when they were not, or that the file was “under review” when it hadn’t been accessed in months. Former loan-level representative Simone Gordon says flat-out in her affidavit that “we were told to lie to customers” about the receipt of documents and trial payments.

See what I mean?

Now about those arrests, prosecutions, and prison sentences...

Read the full affidavits from the active court case here and the rest of David's post here.

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Funny or Die VIDEO: Thanks, Bank of America!

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Funny or Die rocks. The End.

Thanks for not charging us five dollars to use your bank to hold my money, no really, thank you so very much.

And just for good measure, a bonus L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Give us your cash — for a fee

Re "Banks cash in on cash deposits," Column, Nov. 18

Inasmuch as banks feel that it's OK to charge their customers for depositing cash, I am going to start charging banks for not being a customer.

Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase all justify these fees for depositing cash by asserting that their services take time and money. My justification for charging my fee is that the banks are saving a substantial amount of time and money by not having me as a customer, so they can share the savings with me.

Moreover, I'll make it a nominal fee so that most won't gripe.

Joel M. Levitt
Van Nuys

H/t: @KelliSmith15

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Bank of America refuses customer with continued threats

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My pal and sometimes BLUNT video contributor, Aaron Krager, has three posts up for you to read, here, here and here.

I'll give you the tease, but please link over to all three posts, which are not long at all, and clear easy reads:

After being arrested for criminal trespassing yesterday, Action Now board member Marsha Godard, returned to Bank of America headquarters this morning to close her account and once again present the bank with the list of violations.

Bank of America refused her entry. Their own customer was not allowed the enter the bank and attend to her own money.

Speaking over the phone with Ms. Godard she detailed her treatment prior the arrest. With her organizations support outside she entered the downtown headquarters to present them with a list of potential violations for the impending vacant homes law requiring them to maintain and secure the buildings.

Action Now has been raising the empty homes as a safety and neighborhood concern for sometime now as a place of crime and drugs. In fact, two firefighters were injured after an empty home went up in flames.

Please read the rest at the links I provided above.

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FTC Returns Nearly $108 Million to 450,000 Homeowners Overcharged by Countrywide for Loan Servicing Fees

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Yeah, who needs government regulations and oversight? Free Market, FREE MARKET!!!

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 450,177 refund checks worth almost $108 million to homeowners who were allegedly overcharged by Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. As part of the FTC’s efforts to protect financially distressed homeowners, the FTC reached a settlement with Countrywide last year over allegations that the company collected excessive fees from borrowers who were struggling to keep their homes.

“It’s astonishing that a single company could be responsible for overcharging more than 450,000 homeowners,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “Countrywide’s unconscionable behavior harmed American consumers on a massive scale and we are proud to be getting every single dollar back to hundreds of thousands of struggling consumers who can least afford to lose the money.”

The FTC’s June 2010 settlement order required Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America, to pay $108 million to be used for refunds and barred the company from taking advantage of borrowers who have fallen behind on their payments. The refunds are being distributed to consumers whose loans were serviced by Countrywide between January 1, 2005, and July 1, 2008, and who were subject to the company’s allegedly unlawful practices.

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