There was this mortgage company a few years back named Countrywide. They started out a small company in New York founded by the son of a butcher, Angelo Mozilo. A few years after founding the company he moved the business west to make his fortune in the Southern California mortgage business.
The California property market was on the rise and a good mortgage lender was the ticket to home ownership.
How they got to the front of the subprime mortgage debacle is anybody’s guess, but the fact remains with Countrywide holding roughly 20% of the American subprime mortgage paper of the late nineties, early 2K, their hands were elbow deep in the crisis.
When the wheels fell off the mortgage industry and foreclosure rates rose faster than the space shuttle, one casualty was many of the deployed servicemen holding Countrywide mortgages. In spite of a law on the books known as the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), it is alleged that Countrywide systematically and knowing violated the regulations by carrying out foreclosures on homes belonging to deployed U.S. Servicemen.
Bank of America purchased Countrywide in January of 2008 for over four billion dollars. I don’t know what they got for their money other than a boatload of trouble. They have spent millions in legal fees defending their acquisition and operation, but the hits just keep on coming.
A class action lawsuit against Countrywide/Bank of America was recently filed on behalf of servicemen who lost their homes to foreclosure. The lawsuit alleges Countrywide was fully aware of the laws set forth by the SCRA but moved foreward with foreclosure proceedings on deployed service members anyway.
To be honest in the course of researching this blog I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of injustice and greed at the root of this sub-prime mortgage and subsequent foreclosure crisis. Good people by the hundreds of thousands lost their homes. In many cases it was out right fraud and there hasn’t been any true accountability. People should be in jail for this travesty.
It’s not light reading. It’s not fiction. This really happened. It’s still happening.
If you don’t quite get what happened with the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, this animated documentary does a great job of simplifying it for you.