Daily Archives: November 12, 2015

Wells Fargo dual tracking?

Sandusky Register:


In a recent case, a homeowner whose loan is serviced by Wells Fargo presented a letter from a law firm which proclaimed at its beginning: “Your mortgage loan has been referred to us for foreclosure.”

Dated on the very same day, Wells Fargo sent the homeowner a financial package to complete in order to gain a mortgage workout. Since in our experience the loss mitigation or workout departments of mortgage servicers do not maintain communication with foreclosure counsel, it appears Wells Fargo has already decided to file foreclosure, even while it invites the homeowner to provide information designed to avoid it.


Of course the end result of this type of conduct is to put tremendous pressure on the poor homeowner to accept whatever sort of deal the mortgage company may want to offer, even a deal which may be built to fail.

Fortunately, this homeowner came to us for advice, as we will use the law prohibiting dual tracking as an effective tool to force Wells Fargo to deal with him in good faith.

This is a weekly column by Sandusky attorney Dan McGookey, devoted to telling true stories of homeowners who have been victimized by a lending system that makes it profitable to foreclose. The names used have been changed for privacy purposes.

Incumbents Are Being Swept From Office Around The World

U.S., take note…

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man.com,

Election Trends in 2015 – No Incumbent is Safe

In the political sphere, this year has started with a bang, when Syriza won the Greek parliamentary election. All of Europe’s attention was focused on this outcome and its aftermath over the coming six months or so. As it turned out, it was a bad omen for political incumbents nearly everywhere.

More recently, we have seen the government of Stephen Harper in Canada go down in flames, with its opponents winning an unexpected landslide victory. As an aside to this particular election: as a friend of ours who hails from Canada remarked, pretty much the only positive policy initiative he could identify so far was the new government’s plan to pursue the legalization of soft drugs (in our opinion the decision to refrain from overseas military adventures is a good idea as well).

600 Hungry, Angry Chinese Workers “Sleep On The Street” After CEO Disappears With Their Wages


According to the Chinese website, in the latest confirmation that China’s Politburo is getting far more nervous than it will admit, hundreds of workers at a Hong Kong-owned toy factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have been protesting since last week after the owner “disappeared,” leaving their wages unpaid.

Workers at the Shanghe Jianming Toy Factory in the city’s Bao’an district first discovered that their Hong Kong boss, identified only by his surname Deng, was nowhere to be found, they told RFA.

“Some people are sleeping out on the street next to the factory gates, or in the road, and many are hungry,” a worker surnamed Shen told RFA.

Instead of tracking down the boss and finding why he “absconded” with all his employees’ unpaid wages, “The police sent a lot of people to surround the workers.”

Photos of the scene seen by RFA showed rows of people sleeping on sheets of cardboard by a factory wall, and rows of police guarding a street with barriers placed on it.

An official who answered the phone at the Bao’an district labor bureau said the local authorities had sent a team to the factory to listen to the workers’ complaints.

“The mood of the workforce has stabilized now, and they have gone back inside the factory gates,” the official said. “Our leaders and government officials are there too, dealing with the situation.”

According to Shen, many workers are owed overtime and severance pay under Chinese labor law. “Some people have been working here for more than a decade, and they should get severance, but they haven’t received it,” he said.

Alas, they won’t receive it because the money is all gone: a worker who gave only a nickname A Quan said the workers had realized something was amiss when they spotted the factory’s remaining management team selling off raw materials on the quiet.

“Somebody saw them, and grabbed them,” A Quan said. “They were selling off the raw materials so [we think] they definitely knew that the boss had already absconded.”

Is the Florida statute of limitations issue a thing of the past?

All indications point to yes; but it is wise to heed the old adage that you should “never count your chickens before they hatch”.

The Florida Supreme Court (FLSC) accepted certiorari earlier this year from its 5th District Court of Appeal and held oral argument last week to resolve a dispute on the statute of limitation issue plaguing the mortgage industry.  The State of Florida is divided into five District Courts of Appeal (DCAs), whose application of law reigns sovereign over their respective districts.  The debate stems between the 3rd DCA, which encompasses the populous county of Miami-Dade as well as neighboring Monroe County, and all other DCAs and federal courts throughout Florida which have spoken on the issue of the impact of the statute of limitations on re-filed foreclosure actions. (Notably only the 2nd DCA and the federal courts of the northern district of Florida have yet to publish an opinion on the issue.)

While it is generally understood that extinguishment of a mortgage only occurs when all sums secured are paid off or the mortgage is foreclosed, the 3rd DCA has held that a mortgagee may not have the right to foreclose on a mortgage if a prior foreclosure action was dismissed and a second action was filed within five years after the filing of the first.  Five years represents the statute of limitation for foreclosure actions in Florida.  Consequently, a lucky borrower might get a free house if a mortgagee has, through oversight or inadvertence, had its prior action dismissed — although there is some debate as to whether the mortgage would still encumber the property for the remaining mortgage term even though the mortgagee can no longer foreclose on it.  Indeed, it might be possible that the right to foreclose a mortgage could be lost even if the mortgagee was not negligent but, instead, had voluntarily dismissed its own action for any reason including, but not limited to, simply abandoning the action to give the borrower some relief.

Read on.

The Fudge Factor Strikes Again!

It’s been quite a week for the Fudge Factor as Dr. Dan Ariely professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University labels “stretching the truth.” From major companies to politicians, recent news stories have pointed out more than a few potential incidents that illustrate Dr. Ariely’s work in the book he authored, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty – How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves and the film,  

(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies.

Dr. Ariely, whom I wrote about in a recent post, points out that’s it just plain old human nature to lie.
As I referenced, he asked, “Who lies more, politicians or bankers?” And while Dr. Ariely concluded that bankers lie twice as much as politicians, it sure looks as if politicians may be edging up. Of course, the comments made recently by Exxon Mobil and presidential candidates Ben Carson and Hillary Clinton may just be because of faulty memory, or embellishments, or omissions – not necessarily lying. But as Ariely describes the fudge factor, there does appear to be a significant layer of rationalization between what appears to be the truth and the fudge factor.

Amalgamated Bank Commits to Five Principles of Responsible Banking, Calls on Industry to Join it to Rebuild Customer Trust

Saying it’s time for America to trust its banks again, Amalgamated Bank redoubles efforts to help restore integrity in banking sector

NEW YORK, November 3, 2015 – Amalgamated Bank, the leading national progressive bank, which offers a comprehensive suite of financial services, today announced that it would commit to “The Five Principles of Responsible Banking,” a new gold standard for responsible behavior in the banking sector. The Principles spell out what Amalgamated believes is the key to success in the industry: empowering the people, putting the customer first, common-sense regulation, economic justice, and transparency. Amalgamated has sent a copy of these principles to its fellow bankers with a letter from Amalgamated’s CEO & President, Keith Mestrich, calling on these institutions to join Amalgamated in committing to the Principles.

“In today’s America, bankers are often seen as uncaring. The industry has lost consumer trust and has done very little to earn it back. At Amalgamated, we’re trying to change that,” said Amalgamated Bank CEO Keith Mestrich. “We believe earning trust starts by committing to paper our corporate principles, such as supporting sensible regulation that instills consumer confidence, being forceful advocates for creating financial opportunity for all and welcoming transparency and corporate governance standards that allow for true accountability. We hope other banks and financial institutions agree and share our public focus on creating opportunity for all Americans, regardless of the size of their bank account.”

“The Five Principles of Responsible Banking” are:

Resurrect Our Industry’s Mission: Empowering People. Banks can be a tremendous power for good. When banks act as stewards of a family’s financial security, no other industry’s role is more vital to widening access to the American Dream. The banking industry must return to its founding mission of creating financial opportunity for everyone, not just for our executives or shareholders. Our economy thrives when financial empowerment is shared. Through affordable and accessible products and services, banks can reclaim our role in making sure that the mission of financial empowerment becomes a reality.

Customer Trust Must Come First. Banking relies on trust. A robust system of lending, saving and investing is central to a strong economy. Customers must trust their banks are never drifting from their fiduciary responsibility to maximize our customers’ financial opportunities. Breeding an internal corporate culture founded on an unwavering commitment to protecting customer trust is at the core of maximizing financial opportunity and preventing systemic financial failure.

Regulation is Not the Enemy. Banks have been given an extraordinary responsibility. With that opportunity, along with the government’s insurance of deposits, come regulations designed to protect consumers. Rather than challenge sensible regulation, responsible banks should embrace such measures as tools designed not only to safeguard consumer confidence, but to protect the solvency of an industry with inherent risks, and to preserve the integrity of our overall financial infrastructure.

Find Value in Economic Justice. Banks’ interest in broad-based economic empowerment should include advocacy on policy beyond our customers’ banking needs. And we should not reserve the benefits of banking for the few, while the rest of America incurs its risk. Whether it is wage fairness, equitable housing programs, or better access to financial services for the unbanked or underbanked, banks should be forceful advocates for public policy that allows for the creation of financial opportunity up and down the economic ladder.

Embrace Transparency. Banking can be a complicated business. But too often that is by design, rather than necessity. Banks must embrace transparency and corporate governance standards that bolster consumer confidence and allow for real public accountability. An opaque banking system will always undermine banks’ legitimacy by its inability to inspire trust or empower those who need our services most. We must take an active role in educating consumers on personal finance and in improving financial literacy in our most economically vulnerable communities.

Earlier this year, Amalgamated Bank became the first bank to institute a $15 an hour minimum wage for all of its employees. It has since launched a #RaiseTheWage campaign, encouraging other businesses to pay a fair and living wage.

– See more at: https://www.amalgamatedbank.com/article/2015-11-03/amalgamated-bank-commits-five-principles-responsible-banking-calls-industry-join#sthash.Fydz3OVP.dpuf

Amalgamated Bank Raises Its Minimum Wage To $15, Sees Immediate Benefits

In Wake of National Employment Law Project Study, Amalgamated Bank Reaffirms Commitment to Progressive Values

NEW YORK, August, 6, 2015 – Amalgamated Bank, the preeminent bank of progressive people, organizations, businesses and labor, announced today that it will raise all employee wages to a minimum of $15 an hour. Amalgamated Bank’s wage increases are effective immediately. Amalgamated Bank also called on the banking industry to follow its lead and raise all employees’ minimum salaries to $15 an hour.

“As one of the highest grossing industries, it is simply unacceptable that a significant portion of bank workers rely on public assistance. By raising our minimum wage, we’re hoping to reduce this egregious percentage, and we’re calling on other banks to do the same,” said Amalgamated Bank CEO Keith Mestrich. “While we’re honored to be the first, we hope that the rest of the banking industry swiftly joins us in paying industry employees a living wage.”

“OPEIU Local 153 is extremely pleased to be part of the first agreement in the country that provides bank employees with a $15 minimum hourly wage,” OPEIU International President Michael Goodwin said.  “We hope that other banks will follow Amalgamated Bank’s lead and show their employees the dignity and respect they deserve by providing them with a living wage.”

This news comes on the heels of the recommendation by New York State’s fast-food wage board to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour by 2018, as well as a study released this week by the National Employment Law Project detailing a great discrepancy in wages in the banking industry. According to their study, while full-time bank tellers earn $25,800/year on average, a typical bank CEO makes in the tens of millions of dollars annually after full compensation packages are included. Amalgamated Bank ranks among the best for CEO to worker pay ratio at 17:1. In New York, the study found that the median wage for bank tellers is $13.31 per hour leaving 39% of New York State bank tellers enrolled in public assistance programs.

“This kind of commitment to people is part of who we are at Amalgamated Bank,” Mestrich added. “We hope our colleagues across the banking industry will see that a livable minimum wage is not only the right thing to do – it’s also good business.”

– See more at: https://www.amalgamatedbank.com/article/2015-08-06/first-bank-nation-pay-15-hour#sthash.PRuGGnma.dpuf