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Many consumers have at least one debit card and one credit card. Understanding the liability differences between each and knowing when it is the right time to use them is important...
Rick Slorp alleges that BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. and its attorneys at Lerner Sampson & Rothfuss LLP (LSR) created and submitted multiple fake versions of his promissory note to use as evidence against him in a foreclosure lawsuit.
Wells Fargo Created Millions of Fake Accounts
Wells Fargo created millions of fake bank accounts under consumer names between 2011 and 2015. By doing so, the Wells Fargo bank was able to meet targeted sales and collect more money in fees from their consumers who were unaware of these unauthorized accounts. It is noted that consumers were signed up for checking accounts and credit cards that they never agreed to open and pay fees on. Wells Fargo has said to have dismissed over 5,000 employees regarding this issue, suggesting this was a widespread problem and ingrained in the banks culture.
Over a million fake accounts are estimated to have been created by employees in consumers names. Employees allegedly created fake email addresses and fake pin numbers to enter these accounts into the system. Roughly a quarter of the accounts created without a consumer consent were credit card accounts. These credit card accounts jointly created a little under a half a million dollars in fees including interest charges, overdraft protection fees and annual fees. Wells Fargo does plan to compensate consumers involved in these fraudulent accounts.
So how does a fraudulent bank account effect a consumer?
A bank account developing fees that are going undetected by the consumer can continuously grow causing the consumer to have to pay more once detected. If never detected, then the consumer is accumulating debt. The unauthorized bank accounts also affect a consumers’ credit score as they are missing payments. A drop in credit could affect a consumers’ ability to take out a loan on items such as a car or mortgage for a home.
Wells Fargo creating unauthorized bank accounts violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). TILA expresses that consumers should be made aware of certain information when signing contracts related to credit cards and loans. Wells Fargo employees violated this act by never providing a contract for consumers to sign agreeing to the bank accounts and credit card accounts that were created. More information regarding the TILA can be found in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Watch Out for the Dotted Line!
This week, the Ohio Sixth District Appellate Court in Toledo dismissed a consumer’s appeal after he claimed he was convinced to sign a consent agreement with the property owner through fraud because he had entered into a contract that barred his case. The lesson to learn from the Sixth District is to be aware of what you sign and how it can affect you into the future.
Charles Hanson was living in a house when Flex Property Management purchased it at a sheriff’s sale. Flex Property gave notice to Mr. Hanson to leave the property, and was directed to vacate by the end of February 2015. Mr. Hanson, representing himself pro se, entered into settlement agreement with Flex Property outside the courtroom. In exchange for $1000 cash, receiving a pre-approval letter from the bank, and an appraisal on the home, Mr. Hanson was permitted to stay in the house and make an offer to purchase. Mr. Hanson signed a consent judgment in April 2015 that was sent along with a drafted purchase agreement for the property.
However, when the two sides returned to the court, Flex Property filed the consent judgment and, according to Mr. Hanson, this showed that Flex Property had no intention of allowing him to purchase the property. With the consent judgment duly filed, the court informed Mr. Hanson that he would be removed from the house on May 30, 2015. Mr. Hanson appealed the court’s order.
The Sixth District court dismissed Mr. Hanson’s appeal.
The key issue identified by the Appellate Court is that a consented judgment entry or settlement agreement is a binding contract between the parties. Generally, one cannot appeal a contract. Since Mr. Hanson did not expressly reserve the right to appeal in the terms of the consent agreement, he was barred from contesting the judgment in that fashion.
Since the fraud that Mr. Hanson alleged to Flex Property occurred outside the courts, there is no evidence of it on the record. As such, Mr. Hanson could not argue the fraudulent inducement claim in a direct appeal either. Instead, the Sixth District instructed that Mr. Hanson would have to petition the court to set aside the judgment under Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 60(B) and make that case to the trial court. This is a more difficult process than a direct appeal.
Realize that when you sign something, you are likely forming a contract with the other party. Mr. Hanson represented himself and entered into two contracts with Flex Property: the settlement agreement & the consent judgment. Without realizing it, he had given up some of his rights and limited his options for the future.
A contract does not need to be a formal document that reads “Contract” at the top, or have “Wherefores” and “Therefores” sprinkled throughout. If the essential legal elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, and consideration) are met, the court will likely deem an agreement a legally binding contract.
Before you sign anything, ensure that you understand the consequences of each term and element. If you are across from a bank or property management company, you know they have had their attorneys make sure their rights and options are well protected. The best option is to get an attorney on your side to review everything and protect your interests. Contact Doucet & Associates to help ensure that your rights are protected.
Read the decision [Capital Income & Growth Fund, L.L.C. v. Hanson, 2016-Ohio-2973]
60 Minutes Video Worth Watching About Foreclosure Fraud
Here is a great 60 minutes video on foreclosures and foreclosure fraud. It is worth watching if you are concerned about what the banking system has done to force foreclosures through the system: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-next-housing-shock/
Our firm looks out for homeowners by questioning these kinds of documents during litigation. Call us today if you are concerned about your foreclosure and the bank’s standing.