Anonymous, an online hacker group, released a string of e-mails last week that purportedly show mortgage document fraud at Bank of America. Many people yawned. After all, there have been well-documented cases of mortgage fraud and illegal foreclosures, and little has been done to punish Bank of America or any of the banks for their behavior.
But just because the federal government has been slow to act on the mortgage crisis doesn’t mean that these e-mails are any less valuable. The e-mails are a chain showing requests for Balboa Insurance employees to remove document tracking numbers from the system of record. Balboa Insurance became a division of Bank of America after the bank bought the bankrupt home loan company Countrywide Financial. The idea suggested in the e-mails was to misplace individual documents away from matching loans. This would make it harder for federal auditors to investigate individual loans. It would also make it far more difficult for individual homeowners to dispute or question bank action on their loans – and therefore obtain mortgage modifications or a stay on bank foreclosure. The Anonymous e-mails are serious indeed. They’re a snapshot into why the mortgage mess spiraled out of control. While they don’t tell the whole story, they point to the need for further investigation and possible action on behalf of the federal government. When people are losing their homes, the banks shouldn’t be allowed to get away with deception.