Sweet Revenge: Florida Couple Who Got Screwed By Bank of America Sends Sheriffs to Foreclose on Bank Branch

The best kind of poetic justice took place this week when a wrongfully foreclosed-on Florida couple sent a lawyer, sheriff's deputies, and movers to a Bank of America branch to get money they were owed, using the same brutally intimidating manner the banks use to evict those whose homes they foreclose on.


Bank of America has been in the spotlight for reasons like this before, due to a batch of lawsuits claiming wrongful or unwarned foreclosures, in which bank officials would break into the house of an unwitting mortage client and take possession of personal items--even when the homeowner didn't know about the impending action, as in the notorious case where the bank took possession of an urn of ashes.

The Nyerges, a Florida couple, found themselves in danger of being in the same situation--except they weren't even behind on their mortgage payments like some previous plaintiffs. In fact, they didn't have any payments to make, and the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against them anyway.

Tara Nicholle-Nelson at Time's Moneyland blog describes the circumstances that led this aggrieved couple to take revenge on Bank of America: 

In 2009, retired police officer Warren Nyerges and his wife, Maureen Collier, paid $165,000 cash for their 2,700 square foot home in the Golden Gate Estates subdivision, and never took a mortgage out on it. So imagine their surprise when, in February of 2010, Bank of America initiated foreclosure proceedings against them. The Nyerges hired an attorney, Todd Allen, to defend them against the wrongful foreclosure, and the bank eventually abandoned the matter.

But the story continues: the couple, the Nyerges, had incurred some legal fees to get rid of this nuisance of a non-foreclosure, and they understandably wanted the bank to pay those fees. They requested the money repeatedly, and then a circuit judge ordered Bank of America to pay up--but to no avail.

At last they decided to turn the tables. They sent their attorney, along with a pair of sheriff's deputies, to "foreclose" on the local bank branch. "I'm leaving the building with either cash, a check or a whole lot of furniture," Todd Allen, the Nyerges' attorney said as he walked into the branch, according to USA Today.

With two rather intimidating 

sheriff's deputies at his side and moving trucks out back, Allen stood and waited for the money to be delivered to his clients, threatening to leave with whatever it took to make the payment: furniture, computers, cash from the tellers.

"Having two sheriff's deputies sitting across your desk and a lawyer standing up behind them demanding whatever assets are in the bank can be intimidating, but so is having your home foreclosed on, when it wasn't right," Allen said, according to NPR.

After an hour of this tense situation -- which left the bank manager "shaken," in Allen's words -- the check was cut, and the bank apologized for "miscommunication." 

The couple got their legal fees paid, and most importantly, their "sweet justice."

But while this story has a happy ending, the bank's evasiveness and sloppiness are symptomatic of a nationwide plague.

As Nicholle-Nelson of Time wrote:

... there are deeper implications to every one of these foreclosure foul-up horror stories we read about, and even those we don’t...the fact that a bank has lots of foreclosures to process and hires an overworked, underqualified or otherwise not-up-to-the-job professional to do it does not justify the nonchalance with which documents and properties of such gravitas were treated.

 

Indeed, stories like these serve to highlight the callousness and inhumanity of the whole foreclosure process. The fact that such a wrenching thing is often done without any sort of protection for consumers or precision makes it even worse.

And that's why people are fighting back.

Earlier this spring, AlterNet reported on a new grassroots coalition, "Take Back the Land," that has been staging mass direct actions to keep people in their homes. Some of the actions have attracted so much media attention they've won housing back for displaced families:

But TBL is trying to change the hopelessness and lack of options afflicting people on the verge of losing their housing. The nationwide organization, comprised of local action groups, demands that housing be elevated to a human right. They stage actions to help people stay in their foreclosed homes and promote housing policies that serve the common good over the interests of banks. The group lobbies for the expansion of public housing and calls for establishing a human right to housing under law.

This kind of movement, combined with actions like those of the Nyerges and the Uncut movement (which targets BofA and other financial behemoths), may be doing a small part to keep those tables turned on the predatory behavior of banks.

Watch the local news story below.

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