Just like the last VICTIM OF WELLS FARGO I wrote about, Wells Fargo claimed that Norman and Oriane Rousseau had missed a mortgage payment. But the payment HAD been made in person at a Wells Fargo branch by Cashier’s Check, and Mrs. Rousseau has the receipt for the transaction.
The Rousseaus file a dispute with Wells Fargo over the supposed missing payment. Wells Fargo “investigates” and comes back saying that the Rousseaus had stopped payment on the check. They stopped payment on a Cashier’s Check? Seriously?
I don’t want to spend too much time on this ridiculous point, so here’s how Rousseau’s lawyer explains this technical yet wholly insipid issue, and then we’ll move on…
The teller’s receipt establishes that the cashier’s check was in the custody and control of Wachovia on April 1, 2009, and the research by the Cashiering Department should have concluded that Wachovia screwed up by not applying the cash-equivalent funds to the Rousseau’s account. After delivery and acceptance to the branch office, it was Wachovia’s responsibility to safeguard the instrument; Wachovia itself effectively stopped payment on the cashier’s check.
Okay, so let’s get back to the meat of the story…
Concerned that they could not resolve the payment dispute but told they should apply for a loan modification, the Rousseaus hired a law firm and submitted a loan modification application. After that it was standard operating procedure at Wells Fargo… we lost this, and we lost that, resend this, and resend that… for almost a year.
Good Lord, Wells Fargo, could you please do something differently just once? This article is almost becoming a form letter.
Wells Fargo then of course told the Rousseau family not to make their payments, that they were being considered for a loan modification and that making their payments would immediately disqualify them.
So, they saved their payments just in case Wells decided to deny them a modification. Saved every single one just in case the bank decided to act like… well, Wells Fargo Bank.
Then Wells sent them a Notice of Default, but when they called to say they wanted to reinstate their loan, Wells said what they always say… IGNORE IT… don’t worry about it, everything’s fine, it’s just an automated sort of thing… why, you’re being considered for a loan modification.
Then Wells filed a Notice of Sale on October 28, 2010. Their home would be sold on November 22, 2010. And still Wells said… IGNORE IT… it’s just another automated sort of thing… your loan modification is still pending… and please re-submit some documents.
It was November 10, 2010… just 12 days before their home was to be sold… when the Wells Fargo representative told the Rousseau’s that their loan modification had been denied. The reason: Insufficient income.
Yeah, but you know the funny thing about that is that their income hadn’t changed a nickel since they applied for the loan modification. So, what’s the deal? Did it take Wells Fargo a year to figure out the Rousseau’s income was insufficient? Is that the story I’m supposed to be buying into?
You’re a liar, Wells Fargo. Either you knew you weren’t going to approve their loan modification, or you’re the most incompetent financial institution in the history of the world. And you don’t just do this sometimes, you do this all the time… and especially to people in their 60s or older. Why is that do you suppose?
In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, I’m actually collecting Wells Fargo stories at this point. I figure it’ll be a hoot to put them all together into a book. What do you think? Should I autograph a copy for you when it’s done?
That same day the Rousseaus found a lawyer and discovered they had a RIGHT TO REINSTATE their loan. (Nice of Wells not to tell them that, by the way.) They contacted Wells and requested a reinstatement quote… TWO DAYS LATER Wells finally gave them the phone number for RCS, the trustee.
But, RSC said that reinstatement would take two weeks and trustee sale was going off as planned in 8 days. Wells got them their reinstatement quote too… it was dated November 15, but received via email on November 17, 2010.
And it expired in two days and had to be received in Texas by November 19, 2010.
The Rousseaus had more than enough in savings to reinstate their loan, they told Wells Fargo that… but now they couldn’t get the money from their IRA in time for the 2-day deadline and Wells refused to postpone the sale.
So, the Rousseau’s home sold at the trustee sale on November 22, 2010.
Next the Rousseaus go through a series of lawyers. Finally, they get a good one and in July of 2011, the court grants an injunction contingent on them making a monthly payment of $1800.
But, by December of 2011, Wells finally wore the Rousseaus down and they just couldn’t make December’s payment. They used up all their money fighting Wells Fargo, and Norm had been unemployed since the foreclosure. He was taking odd jobs as a handy man to make ends meet.
Wells Fargo immediately goes to court… gets the injunction dissolved… then proceeds with the Unlawful Detainer… the lockout is set for May 15th, 2012… at 6:00 AM.
THAT’S TOMORROW MORNING… AT 6:00 AM.
Over this past weekend, Norm Rousseau talked with their attorney who is working pro bono by the way. Basically, his lawyer tells him…
“Look… let’s face the facts here. We’ll proceed with the lawsuit. We’ll fight like hell to get you back in the home, but you have to be ready with some sort of plan so you’re not left homeless and on the streets.”
Norm found someone who has a 27-foot motorhome he can use, but after he gets it home on Saturday… it stops running… it won’t start. But, Norm Rousseau is a man in his 50s with mad skills. He goes to work around the clock taking apart the engine, doing everything he can to get it running so that on Tuesday morning he will have somewhere to house his family. He’s up all night Saturday night, but still can’t get it running. It’s too big to tow with a car.
His mind must have been wandering late on Saturday night. What must a man, a father, a provider be thinking when he knows that everything in life has somehow gone terribly wrong and there’s nothing left to do? He must have been imagining the sheriff pulling up to evict his family on Tuesday morning… just two days away, as the motorhome’s engine lay in pieces in his driveway.
I can only imagine what must have been going through his mind as he worked tirelessly, without sleep, on that engine and electrical system… as the clock ticked away the hours, I’m sure going faster and faster as time was running out. Damn, it’s already 11:00 PM… then it’s 3:00 AM… and then 5:00 AM… and then before he knew it… a most unwelcome sun was shining… 9:00 AM…
I can almost hear him thinking: “Damn it, what am I going to do? How could this have happened?” I can hear him swearing under his breath as he fights with the old parts trying to get them to work together again… I can see him staring at the engine as the will to go on was leaving his soul…
Norman and Oriane Rousseau had bought their home in Ventura, California in 2000, putting nearly 30 percent down, which was their life savings. In 2006, every time they went into the World Savings branch they’d get pitched on refinancing into one of World’s infamous Option ARM loans… that are now illegal, I believe. After a couple of years of being pitched, they finally bought into World Saving’s lies.
They had told World Saving’s loan officer, ERIC COOPER, that they were only interested in obtaining a conventional 30-year, fixed-rate loan. They wanted consistent payments over the life of the loan.
But COOPER assured them that they could significantly reduce their monthly payments… by more than $600 per month, with a lower interest refinanced loan. COOPER said that the new Pick-A-Payment loan product was better suited to their situation.
He described the Payment Option ARM as the new industry standard. He pointed out that the lower interest rate and payment flexibility were valuable advantages that were not available with other loan products. And he said that even more importantly, unlike the previous WORLD loans, the interest rate was tied to an index with historically low rates that were continuing to decrease.
According to COOPER, industry experts projected the interest rates to continue to fall, and so their monthly payments would be EVEN LOWER than their initial payments.
Even under the worst case scenario, COOPER assured them, the historical data for the index indicated that changes in the interest rate would only be slight, and if an increase should occur it would have a negligible effect on their monthly payments… no more than a few dollars.
And besides, COOPER explained, the loan would only be around for a couple years, as they should expect to refinance within the next two years to take advantage of even more favorable interest rates and as the steadily rising housing values would surely increase the amount of their equity in the property.
Then COOPER went for the close…
On the condition that the Rousseaus apply for the new loan that very day, he would agree to waive their pre-payment penalty, stating that there would be virtually no costs to refinance beyond a $35.00 application fee.
Yeah, COOPER, you’re a real peach.
COOPER also convinced the Rousseaus that it was in their best financial interests to consolidate approximately $25,000 in unsecured debt in the refinance transaction, citing the benefits of the lower interest rate and the convenience of having only one payment.
The Rousseaus provided COOPER with accurate and truthful information regarding their income and assets, and COOPER was such a nice guy that he offered to complete the Quick Qualifying Loan Application on their behalf.
Gee, thanks COOPER.
It was right around November 1, 2007, that WACHOVIA arranged for a notary to complete the closing at the Rousseau’s home. The notary discouraged their review of the documents and directed them straight to the signature lines, but the Rousseaus noticed that a pre-payment penalty in excess of $4000.00 was included in the closing costs… the fee that COOPER had promised to waive if they applied that same day. They called COOPER and he apologized for the oversight, but tried to get them to sign anyway, because it would only add a couple of bucks to their payment.
They said… no… they’d reschedule the appointment and wait for the four grand to be taken off their bill, thank you very much.
Two weeks later, the notary returned and they signed the paperwork for their new $368,000 state of the art loan.
Now, the Rousseaus didn’t know it at the time, but COOPER was a lying sack of garbage that had misrepresented just about everything having to do with their new loan.
The 7.2% interest rate of the new loan was actually higher than their old loan and higher than the 6.8% quoted by COOPER. The “significant reduction in monthly payments” was an illusion accomplished by comparing the fully amortized payment of the 2006 loan with the negative amortizing minimum payment due under the new loan.
The new loan, at annual change dates, added deferred interest to principle and the loan amortized, with payment increases capped at 7.5% for ten years. Then, the new loan recast when negative amortization reached 125%.
The Rousseaus were never told about the new loan’s fully amortizing payment of $2,497.94 per month, in fact their payment amount was intentionally misrepresented by COOPER. And the new monthly payment could never decrease because it represented the minimum payment possible… the negatively amortizing option that meant payments would increase at each change date.
But that wasn’t enough for our boy COOPER. The Rousseaus were charged $2,640.00 in origination fees for the “low cost” refinance, which made a tidy profit for World/Wachovia/Wells/Whatever bank.
And best of all, an undisclosed Yield Spread Premium (“YSP”) of $4,195 was charged for placing them in a loan with an interest rate .50% higher than they qualified for, and that YSP increased their monthly payments by $123.32, or $44,395.20 over the life of the loan.
The truth is that the Rousseaus were a heck of a long way from being considered well qualified for their new loan. Their fully amortized payment represented a total debt-to-income ratio of 27.91%, but that percentage was based on income figures that were grossly overstated by guess who? That’s right… COOPER.
The Rousseaus told COOPER their total gross annual income was, $76,000, but somehow it got listed as $136,800 on the application. You know… the application that good old COOPER was nice enough to fill out for the Rousseaus.
So, it was Sunday… yesterday… around 10:00 AM… and Norm couldn’t get the motorhome running. He must have realized that he couldn’t handle the shame of seeing his wife and stepson evicted with nowhere to go… living on the street. I don’t know how anyone could face that reality. I don’t think I could.
How could it be that just 12 years before they had put their life savings down on their first and likely last home? They had done everything right, but nothing was right anymore, and I’m sure to Norm Rousseau, nothing would ever be right again.
Their church had offered to help them, maybe find them somewhere to stay temporarily, and that would be fine for his wife and her son… but not for him. I’m sure he wept as he looked at the engine parts laying there, realizing that it was over.
Norm Rousseau called me a couple of months ago. He wasn’t asking me to help him, in fact, he never even told me about what he was going through with Wells Fargo. No, Norm was concerned about someone else who was losing a home. A really good person who’s done so much for so many others, was how he described her. It wasn’t right what the banks were doing he said. He was hoping that I could do something to help someone he knew, because she was someone whp had helped others… but he didn’t say a word about himself.
Norman Rousseau gave up over that engine that sits in pieces in his driveway today, the sun shining down making the metal parts hot to the touch. Maybe it was the frustration of having nowhere to turn for justice, maybe it was the shame he felt that somehow he had let his family down… even though that was not the case at all.
Sometime mid-morning on Sunday Norm Rousseau ended his own life. He went into his garage and shot himself. At one point he could have reinstated his loan, that’s what he had planned to do, but Wells Fargo had made that impossible… they stripped him of everything he had.
And now, his wife and stepson are to be evicted at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning. They have nowhere to go, they have no money, they are still in shock over the loss of Norm.
And I don’t know what to do really. I’m going to call the sheriff’s office in Ventura… see if I can persuade them to drag their feet for a week before locking them out. Their lawyer is trying to file something with the courts, but maybe you can think of something too.
Maybe you can forward this article to people in the media. Tell them what’s going on… maybe someone will care enough to do something. It’s 11:21 AM and I’ve been up all night again, I can’t really keep this up much longer… but somehow I felt like telling Norm’s story was the very least I could do.
Since Wells Fargo had already done the very least they could do.
Rest in peace, Norm Rousseau.
John Stumpf, CEO
Or, by phone: (415) 396-7018 or (866) 878-5865
Or, if you want to have some fun, since I know this physical address is correct, why not grab an envelope, buy a stamp and reach out to him via regular mail. For extra smiles, consider throwing old keys in with your letter, or I’ve always enjoyed tossing a small handful of sunflower seeds in before sealing…
John G. Stumpf Chief Executive Officer Wells Fargo Bank 420 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94163
For a copy of the complaint in the Rousseau’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo…