Although Bank of America (BoA), along with other big banks like Wells Fargo, Citibank, Ally/GMAC and JPMorgan Chase, recently reached a very favorable settlement of potential criminal fraud charges related to their mortgage lending practices, two recently unsealed civil fraud lawsuits against BoA reveal they may not be out of the woods just yet. Such whistleblower suits allow individuals, usually former employees, with knowledge of fraud committed against the federal government to bring suit on its behalf and collect a portion of any damages awarded.
The federal government has until March 16 to decide whether to intervene in these suits on the side of the plaintiffs.
Two such fraud suits filed against Bank of America shine a bright light on abuses in the mortgage industry that led to the 2007 housing crash and continued as late as 2011. In a case filed in July 2011 and unsealed March 7, former BoA subcontractor employee Gregory Mackler alleges that BoA misled borrowers to keep them from participating in the taxpayer subsidized Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), because mortgage modifications cost BoA money.
Among the tactics allegedly used were stalling the review of applications by assigning them to employees who were on vacation or who had actually already been fired. Concerned borrowers were also told that their complaints were still being reviewed when in fact they had secretly been labeled as “incomplete. Read More