Former Bank of America workers allege it lied to home owners
By Michelle Conlin and Peter Rudegeair
(Reuters) - Six former Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: Quote) employees have alleged that the bank deliberately denied eligible home owners loan modifications and lied to them about the status of their mortgage payments and documents.
The bank allegedly used these tactics to shepherd homeowners into foreclosure, as well as in-house loan modifications. Both yielded the bank more profits than the government-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, according to documents recently filed as part of a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court.
The former employees, who worked at Bank of America centers throughout the United States, said the bank rewarded customer service representatives who foreclosed on homes with cash bonuses and gift cards to retail stores such as Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote) and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O: Quote).
For example, an employee who placed 10 or more accounts into foreclosure a month could get a $500 bonus. At the same time, the bank punished those who did not make the numbers or objected to its tactics with discipline, including firing.
About twice a month, the bank cleaned out its HAMP backlog in an operation called "blitz," where it declined thousands of loan modification requests just because the documents were more than 60 months old, the court documents say.
The testimony from the former employees also alleges the bank falsified information it gave the government, saying it had given out HAMP loan modifications when it had not.
Rick Simon, a Bank of America Home Loans spokesman, said the bank had successfully completed more modifications than any other servicer under HAMP.
"We continue to demonstrate our commitment to assisting customers who are at risk of foreclosure and, at best, these attorneys are painting a false picture of the bank's practices and the dedication of our employees," Simon said in a email, adding the declarations were "rife with factual inaccuracies." Continued...