Bringing UP the REAR: Wells Fargo Bank, Part 2

by 06 Aug 2012

(TheNicheReport) -- Okay, so here are the facts: In the last few months, I’ve seen Wells Fargo Bank commit acts that so heinous, so unthinkably awful, so utterly despicable, that they defy explanation.

First, as you may recall from last month, Judge Elizabeth Magner, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, characterized Wells Fargo’s behavior as being “highly reprehensible.”  Judge Magner ordered Wells Fargo to pay the New Orleans homeowner $3.1 million in punitive damages basically for stealing his house through a system programmed to illegally apply fees and charges before principal and interest.

Wells Fargo Bank was caught preying on people in bankruptcy court… the people least likely to be able to protect themselves or turn to the courts for justice.  It’s actually no different than an adult who goes around beating up 5 year olds.

Next, I saw Wells Fargo Bank foreclose on a 73 year-old widow’s home that she owned for 43 years all because she had underpaid a mortgage payment by $104.27.  She didn’t find out that she had underpaid her payment by $104.27 until months after the fact, and by the time the bank told her… she was in default and Wells was refusing to accept her payments.

The whole thing snowballed from there, and Wells Fargo ultimately foreclosed on her home, but at the end of the day none of it would have happened had the bank simply told her she owed $104.27, or had they accounted for her payment properly.

And coming in third, but certainly not in terms of significance, I saw Wells Fargo lose a cashier’s check, misapply a payment, suggest a loan modification when the lost check turned into a delinquent mortgage, and then when the couple was declined for the modification, Wells gave them six days to reinstate their mortgage by paying the delinquent payments plus late fees and charges.

The couple had saved the money and had more than enough to bring their loan current, but the money was in an IRA and took eight days to arrive, two days after Wells Fargo had sold their home at trustee’s sale, refusing to delay the same even two days for the funds to arrive.  The couple had bought their home in 2000, with the 30 percent down payment they had saved over 20 years.

Two days before the couple were to be evicted at dawn, the husband, after staying up all night trying to get an older motorhome to run so they would have somewhere to go, failed to get the engine to start.  He went into their bedroom, placed a blanket over his head to contain the mess, and shot himself in the head. 

And Wells Fargo’s response?  The bank agreed to delay the eviction for two weeks… two weeks.

Like, if I had a renter who was unable to pay their rent and then this happened, I cannot imagine saying, okay... take another two weeks. I mean, oh my God. Would a month or two have killed Wells Fargo?  Or, 90 days even?

No, two weeks and you'll be locked out. I can’t even tell you how it saddens me that there are people in this country with such an appalling lack of compassion for others. What has happened to us?

Wells Fargo Bank is being sued by just about everyone over just about everything.  Just Google “Wells Fargo Bank sued,” and you’ll find 412,000 results in .21 seconds.  I know, quite a few are no doubt duplicates, but so what?  Homeowners are suing them for literally ruining their lives through fraudulent acts that would make your hair stand straight up. 

Investors are suing them for various frauds, as are insurance companies.  AARP is suing Wells over reverse mortgages.  Even the federal government is going after Wells for a few billion here and a few billion there. 

And, in case you hadn’t heard, Wells Fargo was even caught laundering drug money for a Mexican drug cartel.  The only thing at Wells Fargo Bank that hasn’t been involved in a scam of some kind are those little pens at the teller windows with the chains on the ends.

Remember when robo-signing hit the headlines in September of 2010.  Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC… they all voluntarily stopped foreclosing in order to conduct internal investigations into the allegations

It really is quite awe inspiring.  I mean, even organized crime families have some aspect of their business that’s not entirely illegal and abusive, right?  Like maybe they own a restaurant or control the docks or the garbage trucks.  But, Wells Fargo seems to have the evil market totally cornered.

I’m not a great speller, so maybe you can help me.  Eleven down… how many “Wells” are there in “predatory dirt bag.” 

So, now I come across Wells Fargo being a good corporate citizen.  Want to know what they did?  They donated $22,000 to establish a suicide prevention hotline in Idaho, which apparently is the state with the fourth highest suicide rate in the country.

Here’s what it said in the story I found…

Wells Fargo stepped up Tuesday with a $22,000 gift to help establish an Idaho Suicide Prevention hotline.

“Wells Fargo is pleased to invest in this important community initiative to address a critical need in our state,” said Dana Reddington, Idaho Region president for the banking firm.

So, Wells Fargo “stepped up” with a $22,000 “gift.”  Is that how that should ideally be phrased?  I suppose it’s fine.  But, having spent the last few days writing and talking about Norm Rousseau, the homeowner who recently shot himself two days before Wells Fargo was to have him and his wife evicted after a protracted battle with… no, not cancer… much worse.  You know, we can in many cases, cure many kinds of cancer.

Norm’s protracted battle was with Wells Fargo, and no one has even come close to finding a cure for them.  So, one Sunday morning, he lost the will to continue the fight. 

Look, I only spoke with Norm once for about an hour, so I shouldn’t really speak for him, but I just wanted to say that I’m pretty sure that he would have gladly traded his battle with Wells for… maybe not pancreatic… but let’s say prostate cancer… for sure.  I think so, anyway.

In fact, I’d probably make the same trade at this point were I given the choice.  I’m thinking that the cure rate for prostate cancer for a male in his 50s is much higher than the cure rate for a battle with Wells Fargo at any age.  I don’t know… maybe I’m nuts… it’s not my core point here anyway, so just forget it.

My point is that, having been married for 22 years now, I’ve noticed that these last few years I’ve started drifting towards buying my wife gifts that aren’t really just hers, but sort of ours… kind of.  I’m not entirely certain, but it’s possible that one year for her birthday I may have bought her our new breakfast nook table and chairs set. 

And it brought back a memory from my youth when my father bought my mother a yellow chair/stepstool so she could sit while washing dishes… for her birthday.  She thanked him… let him live… and ordered a dishwasher from Sears the very next day.

She never let him forget it though… that chair is probably still somewhere in the basement.

Anyway, that’s why I understand Wells Fargo wanting to give a gift that establishes a suicide hotline… because it’s a gift that the bank can get some use out of too.  After all, what else would you get for the bank that harms everyone?

And just like my Mom… I’m not gong to let Wells forget what they’ve done.  Did you follow all that?  Wells… it made perfect sense to me.

Martin AndelmanMartin Andelman is a staff writer for The Niche Report. He also writes an almost daily column on ML-Implode called Mandelman Matters. He also publishes a Monthly Museletter and you can follow “Mandelman” on Twitter. Send your responses to


Should CFPB have more supervision over credit agencies?