Staffers: Bank of America Gave Us Gift Cards for Lying

Lawsuit says company cheated homeowners

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 18, 2013 3:49 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bank of America told employees to lie to and cheat homeowners looking for help under the government's Home Affordable Modification Program, and rewarded those employees for kicking people out of their homes, staffers allege in sworn statements attached to a recently filed lawsuit. Here are some of the most outrageous accusations, as brought to light by ProPublica.

  • Anyone who put 10 or more accounts into foreclosure got a $500 bonus, one employee said, but sometimes employees would get more modest rewards—like gift cards to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Every so often the bank would conduct a "blitz," rejecting between 600 and 1,500 modification applications in one fell swoop. Employees were told to make up fake reasons for the rejections.
  • "We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested," one employee wrote. "We were told that admitting that the Bank received the documents 'would open a can of worms.'"
  • Underwriters would often have hundreds of outstanding applications awaiting review. Homeowners would be told their applications were "under review" when nothing had been done on them—or even if they'd already been rejected.
  • "Employees who challenged or questioned the ethics of … declining modifications for false and fraudulent reasons were often fired. There was an extremely high level of turnover."
Bank of America says the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, is "rife with factual inaccuracies," which it promises to reveal in court. But if the allegations are true, they amount to "Bank of America stealing thousands of homes, and lying to the government about it," writes David Dayen at Salon. "If it doesn't result in prosecutions, it will once again confirm the sorry excuse for justice we have in America."

A Bank of America branch is seen in this file photo.
A Bank of America branch is seen in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, file)
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