Launching Our First (Free) Ebook on the OCC/Fed Foreclosure Review Fiasco

As a result of many reader requests, we’ve turned our series based on testimony from whistleblowers at Bank of America and PNC on the whitewash more formally known as the Independent Foreclosure Reviews into an ebook, which we are releasing today. This was the very same OCC mandated process, billed as a way to provide wronged mortgage borrowers with the opportunity to get a measure of justice, that instead turned into a costly and embarrassing fiasco. But it still worked out well for the banks. The amount they paid, even with a mind-boggling $2 billion of fees to consultants and another $3.6 billion in cash payments to borrowers, is far less than they would have shelled out if the process had been designed to conduct the investigations fairly and give meaningful awards.

We hope you will download this ebook, read it, and circulate it widely. It’s timely because the botched foreclosure reviews are coming back into focus. The GAO released its report on them yesterday, and even though it was narrow in focus, it confirmed, as Dave Dayen reported, that the IFR was poorly designed, inconsistently implemented, and subjected to changing guidelines. Elizabeth Warren and Elijah Cummings will be meeting with the OCC and the Fed on Tuesday April 9 to grill them on their sorry performance in the IFR. On Thursday the 11th, Sherrod Brown will be holding hearings in the financial institutions and consumer protection subcommittee. Maxine Waters has also said she will be introducing legislation next week to curb regulators’ use of third party consultants.

We are distributing copies to Elizabeth Warren and Elijah Cummings and to Sherrod Brown and the members of his subcommittee.

Naked Capitalism has already has an impact on this process. Early on, a post by Michael Olenick on the blatant conflicts of interests of one foreclosure review contractor, Allonhill, resulted in its role being cut back considerably. The reviews themselves are widely recognized to be a failure. Even the OCC is not trying to defend them. Our whistleblower series helped confirm that suspicions about the shortcomings of the process were well founded.

We are making this ebook available for free to make sure it is distributed as widely as possible. Please share it with friends, particularly anyone you know who sent in an IFR letter. Please also sent it to your Congressmen and relevant state representatives and agency heads. The IFR was an ineptly executed sop to the banks. It’s important to let people in a position of authority know that the public understands what happened and is not happy about it. The more citizens express their outrage and send in supporting evidence like our ebook, the more they recognize that siding with banks isn’t necessarily a winning proposition.

I hope readers will campaign to have hearings on the House. Maxine Waters, who is the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, has asked for them, and public pressure would overcome Republican inertia. The most important targets are Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett (Capital Markets/GSEs Subcommittee Chair) and Randy Neugebauer (Housing Subcommittee Chair).

In additional to calling or e-mailing these key players, call your Congressmen. Ask to speak to the staffer who handles housing and foreclosures. When you get them, ask if they have heard about the Independent Foreclosure Reviews and the settlement. I guarantee a surprising number won’t know the difference between it and the National Mortgage Settlement (the big Federal/state attorney general settlement of early 2012). Then tell them about our whistleblower accounts, and that they need at least to read Chapters 1 and 2. Tell us how it went in the comments section.

Finally, since the GAO report is just out, it would also be productive to call your local media outlets. Congressmembers watch local news coverage closely. There’s no question that people in their viewing area were shortchanged by the IFR and they could use our ebook to get up to speed on the underlying issues.

We hope you’ll enjoy the ebook. We also hope you’ll continue to support us in producing hard-hitting, substantive original research that causes serious problems for the banks. Even with the underlying post series completed, it took a good bit of additional work (revising for a book format, copyediting, a considerable amount of production) to get this work into final form (and big applause to Lambert, Kim K, Jessica, and our faithful transcriptionist).

But getting the truth isn’t costless. Even something as simple as turning our post series into an ebook took meaningful time and effort of several people. We hope you’ll contribute to our site (the PayPal and WePay buttons are in the right column) so that we can continue to do hard-hitting investigations and analysis that causes serious problems for banks. Remember, the veneer of legitimacy is vital to them; the more we show how false that is, the more we help embolden people who want to move away from them but are afraid to stick their necks out. As Matt Stoller wrote:

The truth is, you can get lies for free. Wall Street is only too happy to buy advertising, to make sure you hear from their well-credentialled experts. If you are not paying for your media, though, then they are. And you aren’t the customer, you are the product being sold. While this arrangement works, what it means is that you’ll get lies for free. And this is a very expensive proposition.

If you are tired of the lies you are being fed for free, put your valuable resources into reshaping how information in our society flows. Cash is easiest way to help, but we can use some types of in-kind support, for those of you for whom that might be easier, like sound editing (yes, if we ever get our decks cleared, we will be doing podcasts), WordPress assistance (and if by happenstance, any of you have inside connections at Quantrix, we would LOVE a copy for financial modeling).

Please download, read, and share!

PS The download is MUCH MUCH better looking than ScribD make it appear. It also makes the native font size look smaller than it really is. This rendering does not do it justice. So download away to get a proper viewing experience and enjoy! Please use the download button at the bottom left of the frame.

Naked Capitalism Whistleblower Report on Bank of America Foreclosure Reviews

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53 comments

  1. AbyNormal

    Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. h.lee, to kill a mocking bird

    your the best Yves, Thanks

    1. Susan the other

      Can’t we just email this link to every Representative and Senator and to all PR departments of every big bank and to all the bunnies scurrying in and out of the White House. And especially to all departments and levels of the new open and transparent Federal Reserve?

  2. David Petraitis

    Too bad you formatted it to be two pages up. 8(
    Makes it unreadable on smaller screens. Did you test with Ipod/ipad or Android phones and tablets? Could upload as a Kindle freebie on Amazon as well you know.

    A welcome effort!
    Will send a copy to my congresspeople.

    1. Lambert Strether

      We were copying another well-recieved eBook… And since I don’t have a cell phone (for many of the same reasons people won’t use FaceBorg) the smaller form factor is hard to test.

      If I produced a version suitable for testing on the iPhone, would you be willing to test it before we went live?

      1. MacCruiskeen

        You should produce it in epub format and then whatever reader software the user is using will resize it to their window automatically. It’s much more user-friendly than pdfs. (If you don’t know how to make one I could do it for you)

        1. John Navas

          Second the motion for ePub instead of PDF.
          PDF is a document format, not a book format, and doesn’t play well on different screen sizes.

  3. Anonymous

    Respectful correction: The “big” National Mortgage Settlement is also a fraud as you have already noted.

  4. Dan

    I would very much like to download the ebook. However, I do not and will not use facebook.Is there another way?

      1. citizendave

        Upon clicking the link to the book, because I use FaceBorg (resistance is futile, you will be assimilated) I get a popup dialogue that offers to log in to Scribd using my FB credentials. As an alternative, I can log in directly to Scribd. I have not yet registered at Scribd — if I were a registered user, perhaps I would not be offered the FB login. The FB login is invariably alarming to me: “Scribd would like permission to: access the following required information. [First item] Your email address [it displays the email address I use for FB]. [Second item] Post on your behalf [followed by subtext] Access posts in your newsfeed – This App may post on your behalf, including documents you published, collections you published and more.” Your choices are “Allow” and “Cancel” — there is no button for “Eff Yew”. I don’t want to give any app, even from a reputable organization, permission to appear to be me. So I will register at Scribd and download the book directly, without involving the Borg (as far as I know, ha).

        1. citizendave

          PS: as Eldorado says at 12:47, the most direct download link is located just above the list of “Topics: Banana Republic, Banking Industry…” To the right of the word “Scribd” there is a download link.

          Chrome warns me that this kind of file (PDF) can cause trouble, so I need to look at the lower right corner of my browser window to give permission to accept the downloaded file.

          1. citizendave

            PPS: using the download link at the bottom of the post (described above) does not require registration.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          If you go to the embed in the post above, in the BOTTOM LEFT of the frame is a download button. No need to leave this page to go to ScribD.

          I wish I could suppress the link above the embed, people do tend to click on what they see first.

    1. eldorado

      use the download link in the embedded doc on this page, right at the end of the post and before the comments.

      if you follow the link instead, scribd wants you to login to download

      1. fajensen

        Firefox with the “BugMeNot” extension normally takes care of scribd and similar annoyances.

  5. JEHR

    Thank you, Yves, for all the time you have put in to investigate all the frauds by the banks and especially this book which you have provided for free.

    I look forward to reading it.

  6. Jackrabbit

    The Introduction provides good background for those that have not kept up to speed.

    The report is very damning in so many ways but I thought that the suspicions of illegal document manipulation/fabrication could have been much more visible.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Oh, I’m referring to the end of chapter 7, not chapter 6 (whose title includes “Further Cover Ups…Including Document Fabrication) and relates Whistle-blower suspicions of document fabrication. The End of Ch7 substantially supports the Whistle-blower information relating to document fabrication.

      Maybe the Whistle-blower reports regarding document fabrication and the Ch7 supporting evidence should’ve been a separate chapter?

    2. Lambert Strether

      What I especially liked about the Introduction was the link right back to Patient Zero at Magnetar (at least for the crash, though the control frauds created the conditions). Let’s save a pitchfork or two and a torch for the hedgies!

  7. molten_tofu

    Already stellar work, but even more stellar are the various forms of distribution you all are using!

    Packaging and distribution – somewhat tedious, so important.

  8. Nitpick

    I love the content, but there’s an error in the formatting of the download – it displays two pages of the book (as you laid it out) on one page. The result is a 11X14 page which is hard to read on most devices, be it laptop, tablet, etc. One has to zoom in to read the text. They just need to reprocess the file so it displays one page per page.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I can do that… Except I’m confused because I’m following the model of a successful book and it displays beautifully on my laptop. So what am I missing?

      1. Carla

        Maybe, Lambert, you have a Mac book? I’m just guessing. On my Lenovo Windows laptop, it displays on two pages and as the commenter above said, it’s awkward. Very much appreciate all of Yves’ and your work on this, however. A stellar effort.

  9. Anon48

    Didn’t get a chance to follow the posts in real time as closely as I should have (tax season). But I’ll make sure to make appropriate time to read this e-book.

    Kinda brings back memories of my childhood when I was an ardent fan of WWF, not realizing how staged it was.

    But back then, at least McMahon usually presented a show for the fans with the appearance that the bad guys lost.

    1. Lambert Strether

      From the article:

      Once the process started, however, identifying and getting remediation to those borrowers proved far more complex, slow and costly than regulators had anticipated, she said. They abandoned the review for a multibillion-dollar settlement with banks because officials realized the process was delaying getting help to borrowers, Ms. Yellen said.

      Not because the situation was so bad they couldn’t fake enough documents to fix it, oh no no no.

    2. craazyman

      Too late for the warning. I started laughing so hard after the first four words I couldn’t even read.

      These people are such unctuously vapid jackasses it’s almost beyond description, but not quite, on a good day.

    3. ftm

      yves – this is really encouraging. I always feel the blog posts just rip by and recede from view way too fast — particularly when original information has been surfaced.

      I’d love to see you try to somehow harness your readers energy in investigative efforts through a user moderated wiki or something. But maybe the editorial direction would be lost.

      Anyway its great to have a discrete, distributable version of your series.

      1. Lambert Strether

        @ftm: That’s interesting. It does seem that a book is a better way to keep a long form series before the public than a blog archive.

        Out of curiosity and as a totally unscientific bit of market research, these books take work. This one is free. If the next one were not, what would you be willing to pay, assuming that the value of the content were the same to you?

        1. ftm

          yeah, i’m not the right person to answer that question because my annual book buying budget is extremely low.

          I don’t know the numbers with web advertising but if you somehow display links to the books on the frontpage that is a huge improvement over a series of posts in the archive. If there was some kind of dynamic link display across the top, that kept the book links and popular recent posts links visible I think that would make the site more accessible to new visitors. Initially web search will pull up the old posts on the book material so you need to provide prominent links on the old posts to new books. But you know this stuff better than me. You say the books cost money , i’m wondering if you could find interested skilled editor/readers to do the work to pull posts together into books so all Yves has to do a final edit or two and not a lot grunt work.

    4. kravitzkravitz

      4Closure Fraud reposted the OCC’s March 28 Release yesterday.

      OCC: Correcting Foreclosure Practices – Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreements
      http://4closurefraud.org/2013/04/05/occ-correcting-foreclosure-practices-independent-foreclosure-review-payment-agreements/

      Recall, as Yves notes, the questionaire wasn’t specific. So it’s interesting the examples the OCC referrs to in a different memo linked above (and below) are not related to questions from the original survey.

      http://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/framework-summary.html

  10. Bravo

    The only thing this ebook lacks is an audiotrack to open the intro…..perhaps the Les Miserables anthem , “Do you Hear the People Sing, Singing a Song of Angry Men”, would be a fitting tribute. Kudos to Yves for helping build a coalition and growing voice for the many amongst us who have seen enough and have no lobbyist in Washington with which to fight back against the Oligarchy that this country has become. This is grass roots at its finest.

  11. Alejandro

    “The nobility of our craft will always be rooted in two commitments, both difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance to oppression.”
    -Albert Camus

    That’s a concise description of the work done by NC. Thank you very much for the book and for your relentlessness.

  12. m

    I tried to give you $10 for this effort, but since I removed my bank account from Paypal, they no longer give me the option to pay by CC–so I don’t use PP any more.

    Happily the Wepay option seems to work, so thanks.

  13. tiebie66

    Don’t have a Congressman to harass; made a small donation instead. Many thanks to you, your contributors, and the whistleblowers.

    On a side note, your continued efforts to expose fraudulent behavior is causing me to notice more such behavior and at various levels of society, down to the HOA and workplace level. Feels like I’m losing my innocence and idealism. It is difficult to understand and accept just how pervasive this behavior is and how a society can appear to function outwardly while it is rotten to the core. The result is that I’m watching how you and others approach this with interest.

  14. matt weidner

    It is clear that the entire system of mortgages is nothing more than an orderly system to transfer wealth from the broad spectrum of Americans and concentrate the wealth in the hands of a few politically favored corporations. Our nation’s courts and government are simply enablers of myriad crime sprees that go on and on unchecked. I’m sure they all laugh at those that scream at the abuses, “Oh, there’s Yves complaining again….ha ha” The most disturbing thing is to watch local, elected judges reward the banks and all their crimes and wrongdoing. For now the crimes of the banking elite most manifest themselves when a family is foreclosed upon…and that only occurs at the hands of a local judge…..blood on their hands.

    1. Alice

      Blood on their hands is right. The judges acts of giving these homes to entities having no interest will certainly come back to haunt them. None of them can feign ignorance about the fraud. Everybody knows except the millions of homeowners who are victims of this historic land grab.

  15. dejavuagain

    Thank you, Yves.

    We all owe you thanks for this effort.

    I have taken note of your tip jar.

    May I suggest adding an appendix with links to various documents, etc. One is able to link out to the Internet from PDF Files.

    A time line would be nice as well in another appendix.

    Mind maps of people, institutions and relationships would be useful as well.

    Thank you again.

  16. Capo Regime

    Fantastic work! Great book! Its already generating buzz in D.C. among housing types, house staffers and former regulators. Seriously. Keep it up. Next appeal–putting in more dough in your pot.

  17. Nancy

    Downloaded without any problem. Looking forward to reading. Will recommend to my congress critters
    Thank you!.

  18. Rick

    Lambert,

    What are the email addresses that I should send this to? We Alm appreciate your work!!!

    I live in south florida and I work for a foreclosure defense law firm. The abuts by the banks is still happening. Nothing has changed since the nms scam. The banks are allowed with getting. Away with every guideline of the settlement if a homeowner hires an attorney to defend their foreclosure.

    They label the file as litigation and do not do any review after that. We have many cases that we have documented the nunerous violations and reported these violations to the CFPB, occ, office of mortgage oversight and the AG.

    All of the above has not resulted in any action and the banks have been able to not respond to the complaints by stating the file is in “litigation”. Even when they have already obtained a final judgment.

    Keep on the fight! We really all appreciate your efforts and the information provided in the ebook is invaluable!

    Again, let me know the email addresses of who to send your ebook to and who else do you think we should address our clients issues to as well!

  19. Jim Spriggs

    Thank you, Yves,

    You are going above and beyond just doing the right thing. I just heard you again on Harry Shearer’s Le Show http://harryshearer.com/le-show/
    and I am once again left with the question, “Is it so difficult to simply do the right thing?”

    And now I am (once again) entertaining the fantasy of somehow pilfering the ill gotten gains of these parasites in order to pay for my own underwater mortgage. Such an act would surely complete the “circle of life”.

    But seriously, you and your colleagues are champions to me.

  20. Geoffrey Mason

    The description of your book sounds great – and I am going to read. Your designer, Letra Libre, is channeling Mad Men a bit excessively with the cover, but if that’s what floats your boat…

Comments are closed.