Opinion » Ted Rall

Too Pig To Jail?

Ban foreclosures now


SAN FRANCISCO­­--What would happen if you got caught forging a mortgage application? You'd go to jail.

In Florida, an employee of GMAC Mortgage admitted under oath that he forged 10,000 foreclosure affidavits. This low-level schlub is one of countless "robo-signers" whom banks including GMAC, Bank of America, Citibank and JPMorganChase hired to kick American families out of their homes.

Ignoring state banking laws, which require bank officers to review foreclosure documents, banks instead hired low-wage "Burger King kids," as B of A execs called them, to sign thousands of foreclosures. Many were signed under someone else's name.

Hundreds of thousands of foreclosures--maybe millions--were processed illegally.

"Behind the question of improper foreclosure documentation lies a more important issue of whether lenders even have legal standing to foreclose because they lack the original mortgage note as required by law," reports The New York Times.

One guy was evicted from his house in Florida despite the fact that his mortgage had been paid off years earlier. Thousands of people who purchased illegally foreclosed properties may not have a legal title.

When the scandal broke on Oct. 8 the banks declared a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. Two weeks later, they declared the whole fuss a simple matter of paperwork and resumed their work of reducing millions of jobless Americans to homelessness.

"There is not a single case where a foreclosure was made in error," said B of A spokesman Dan Frahm. "The facts supporting the foreclosures are correct."

Bank of America plans to evict 102,000 families next month alone.

"These are banks going to court and committing fraud," said Ira Rheingold of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. "For them to say this is a minor technical problem is mind-boggling."

It is time to stop foreclosures. Not for a few weeks. Not temporarily. Forever.

At this writing millions of American families are in default on their mortgages. It's only going to get worse. The global economy is still tanking. And the Obama administration hasn't even bothered to propose a jobs program. If this keeps up, we'll all be living outside while our empty former homes fall apart.

It's not as though banks don't have other ways to induce people to meet their monthly nut. If you default, they can trash your credit rating. Good luck getting another mortgage.

Even if you don't care about common decency or social stability, consider the cause of justice: The banks are criminal enterprises. Their executives are gangsters who think nothing of charging 40 percent interest on credit cards and lines of credit.

The banks don't deserve to get "their" houses back through foreclosure.

We need neighborhoods to form mutual-defense organizations. When a family gets evicted, everyone should help them move back in and keep out the fraud-happy banksters.

What of the banks? Lock them in prison. And seize their property. Or, if they're "too big to fail," rescue them--through nationalization.

A nationalized bank might still do evil, but their profits would belong to us.