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Checks, Lies and Bankster Red Tape

Thom Hartmann: Just when we thought the big banks couldnu2019t hit a new low, they do.

(Photo: Pranav Bhatt)

Surprise, surprise.

Just when we thought the big banks couldn’t hit a new low, they do.

Six former employees of Bank of America have come forward, alleging that the big bank intentionally denied eligible homeowners mortgage loan modifications, and lied to those homeowners about the status of their mortgage payments and documents.

Bank of America allegedly used these dirty tactics to lead homeowners into foreclosures and in-house loan modifications, both of which helped reap massive profits for BOA’s bottom-line.

The employees who have come forward have also said that the big bank rewarded customer service representatives with hefty cash bonuses and gift cards to popular stores when they foreclosed on homes.

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, a Bank of America employee who placed ten or more mortgage accounts into foreclosure a month could get up to a $500 bonus.

The lawsuit also alleges that the bank punished representatives who did not hit foreclosure target numbers or who objected to the bank’s tactics. In some cases, those employees who didn’t foreclose on enough people were fired.

This latest jaw-dropper out of Bank of America comes just days after it was revealed that the bank was also using deceptive mailers and sales pitches to sell consumers on mortgage refinancing plans that could actually add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a borrower’s loan.

Despite these latest revelations about foreclosure targets, lies and dirty tactics, nobody at Bank of America is worried about going to jail.

That’s because our elected lawmakers in Washington, particularly Republican lawmakers, are scared straight by the idea of going after the big banks and going after corporate America.

Yet, these same lawmakers are just fine going after the big bad government, especially when it comes to things like the IRS controversy.

But, let’s look at the parallels between the IRS controversy and the latest news coming out of Bank of America.

With the IRS controversy, IRS agents deliberately went after and applied higher scrutiny towards potentially political organizations, liberal and conservative, applying for 501c3 tax-exempt status.

At Bank of America, employees allegedly intentionally denied eligible homeowners loan modifications, and pushed them into foreclosure to get a bonus.

With the IRS scandal, one IRS official took the fifth when testifying before Congress, but is the subject of both a criminal and an internal investigation.

At Bank of America, it’s alleged that customer service representatives were rewarded for lying to homeowners about the status of their mortgage payments and documents.

Despite the obvious similarities between these two scenarios, only one is being investigated loudly and publicly by Congress; The IRS controversy.

So, why is Congress willing to go to the ends of the earth to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, but refusing to lift a finger when it comes to investigating America’s big banks?

Could it be that employees of the IRS do not make multimillion dollar campaign contributions to members of Congress?

Could it be that employees of the IRS don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying?

And even the media, which is supposed to be an impartial and unbiased source of news and information, is afraid to go after big banks when they commit crimes.

The media would rather drag on ad nauseum about manufactured witch hunts like the IRS controversy, than discuss how the big banks, which American taxpayers have already saved once, are back up to their same old dirty tricks, and threatening to bring down the entire American economy once again.

America’s collective attitude towards the big banks and corporate America needs to change.

Bank of America should not get a slap on the wrist, while our elected officials in Washington waste their time and our tax dollars harassing unionized government employees at the IRS.

Congress and the Department of Justice should hold the big banks accountable for their actions, because America can’t afford another big-bank-caused economic and financial disaster

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