Earlier last year, Bank of America made headlines for one of its more notable foreclosure cases, wherein an employee of the firm "erroneously believed" Angela Iannelli's house was vacant and dispatched a contractor to change the locks and "secure" the property. The fact that the home was neither vacant nor in default is not where BAC wins applause, however-- any bank worth its salt has accidentally foreclosed on a few houses it wasn’t supposed to. What set this story apart was that in addition to being locked out of her house, Iannelli's beloved parrot, with whom she had cohabitated for 11 years, was seized, a separation that caused her "so much emotional distress that she needed a prescription medication for anxiety." Bank of America initially denied having taken the pet-friend, told Iannelli they were “tired” of hearing from her, and hung up on several times. Finally, someone copped to having the bird, and they made her drive 80 miles to retrieve it.
A worthy entry for the foreclosure excellence awards distributed by an independent panel each year to be sure. But was this simply a one-off deal? It's something to be proud of, yes, but some wondered if Bank of America could make magic happen twice. Turns out the answer yes a resounding hell yes.
When Mimi Ash arrived at her mountain chalet here for a weekend ski trip, she discovered that someone had broken into the home and changed the locks. When she finally got into the house, it was empty. All of her possessions were gone: furniture, her son’s ski medals, winter clothes and family photos. Also missing was a wooden box, its top inscribed with the words “Together Forever,” that contained the ashes of her late husband, Robert. The culprit, Ms. Ash soon learned, was not a burglar but her bank. According to a federal lawsuit filed in October by Ms. Ash, Bank of America had wrongfully foreclosed on her house and thrown out her belongings, without alerting Ms. Ash beforehand.
This was also a good one:
In Texas, for example, Bank of America had the locks changed and the electricity shut off last year at Alan Schroit’s second home in Galveston, according to court papers. Mr. Schroit, who had paid off the house, had stored 75 pounds of salmon and halibut in his refrigerator and freezer, caught during a recent Alaskan fishing vacation. “Lacking power, the freezer’s contents melted, spoiled and reeking melt water spread through the property and leaked through the flooring into joists and lower areas,” the lawsuit says. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Even more impressive is when you compare these cases to those of BAC's deadbeats peers in the field, who are just using these foreclosures as chance for free booze and can't be bothered to even think about throwing a pet or urn in the van.
In Florida, contractors working for Chase Bank used a screwdriver to enter Debra Fischer’s house in Punta Gorda and helped themselves to a laptop, an iPod, a cordless drill, six bottles of wine and a frosty beer, left half-empty on the counter, according to assertions in a lawsuit filed in August. Ms. Fisher was facing foreclosure, but Chase had not yet obtained a court order, her lawyer says.