Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bank of America: Finished in Fairfax County

The residents of Fairfax County in Virginia are sick and tired of the fact that bailout recipient Bank of America has seized the County's business.

A member of the County's Board of Supervisors, who did not wish to be named indicated that the Bank's contract is up at the end of 2013 and that the County "will be looking into other options" at that time.

Fairfax County is beset by budget problems and taxpayer ire is on the rise. Recent initiatives for things like artificial turf and trolleys have resulted in mass protests. Taxpayers have also taken aim at County executive Ed Long, whose philosophy "higher taxes, fewer services" is perceived as a fantasy that would not work in the real world.

County Executives are also fretting over negative publicity over its Department of Code Compliance, which appears to target the properties of the elderly and disabled. Advocacy groups have roundly criticized the group, and called for sweeping reforms. Many of these homeowners have also been the victims of the pernicious practices not only of the Bank of America but also loan servicer Ocwen, whose policy is to force customers to deal with representatives in India, who lack any decision making authority and who also provide incomplete and incorrect information to consumers.

In any case, the Bank of America is clearly about to lose a major customer soon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bank of America: Risky Business!

Bank of America has been underestimating its legal risks for years.

Soon, the Federal Reserve will release figures on how much capital the nation’s biggest banks must have to cover a “stress” situation. Next, investors find out whether those banks will be able to return more of their capital to shareholders by paying dividends or buying back stock.

Last year, the Fed passed most of the big banks and let them pay out billions. The Bank of America, sensing a request would be unwelcome, didn’t even ask. This year, however, Wall Street expects that Bank of America will get the green light.

Yet the bank continues to face gargantuan payouts to clean up legal disputes from the bubble years. Now, a lawsuit suggests that the bank’s mortgage portfolio could cost it tens of billions more than it had planned. In one case, if things go wrong, Bank of America may be required to make good on many more billions worth of bad mortgages from Countrywide Financial, which the bank acquired, in the sense that one acquires Ebola virus, in 2008.

Bank of America, however, has kept its legal reserves low — perhaps dangerously so.

The dispute involves a 2011 settlement that Bank of America reached with some of the world’s biggest investors, including Pimco and BlackRock, for $8.5 billion. That amount covers more than $400 billion of Countrywide loans, on which there have been tens of billions of losses. The actual loss total is in dispute because they are estimates, but it ranges from $70 billion or so to well over $100 billion. That means, at the high end of the range, the settlement was for pennies on the dollar. 

Bank of America contends that its reserves are reasonable, based on its estimated probable payouts. The bank wouldn’t raise them “based on speculation from third-party observers who are not directly involved in any of these matters,” a spokesman said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bank of America Implicated in Trading Conspiracy!

August 14, 2012:New York. A former Bank of America Corp. municipal bond marketer testified that he conspired with four former members of the UBS AG municipal derivatives group to rig bids and fabricate work on transactions.

Doug Campbell, a senior marketer in the municipal reinvestment and municipal interest rate hedging group at Bank of America from 1998 to 2002, told a Manhattan federal jury yesterday that he worked with the men at UBS to ensure Bank of America won bids.

“Generally, it was a conspiracy to allocate and rig bids in the municipal reinvestment market,” Campbell said. When UBS employees initially approached him about an arrangement in which he would get bid information in advance, “I did not turn down the offer,” he said.

Campbell was testifying against Peter Ghavami, the former head of UBS’s municipal derivatives group, and Michael Welty and Gary Heinz, both former vice presidents and municipal reinvestment marketers at UBS. The three are charged with conspiracy to defraud municipal-bond issuers and U.S. tax authorities by fixing prices on investing agreements.

Responding to questions from a government lawyer, Campbell said he made a deal with the defendants that “UBS PaineWebber would start showing us information about the transaction in advance” and Bank of America would reciprocate through submitting intentionally losing bids in some transactions and involving UBS in Bank of America business when possible.

Campbell told jurors that after Mark Zaino, a former employee on the bond desk in Zurich-based UBS’s New York office, passed along advance information about an escrow transaction for Massachusetts, Campbell “was looking for ways to reciprocate.”

“I was hearing, certainly from Mark, ‘The desk is unhappy with you. You need to reciprocate. We did you a big favor,’” Campbell said.

To reciprocate, Campbell testified, he put UBS fees on bills for other transactions, indicating to those clients that UBS had advised in the matter when it had not. Zaino would then submit an invoice for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America to pay UBS.

Campbell, 47, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to restraint of trade, conspiracy to defraud municipal issuers and wire fraud. He faces as long as 35 years in prison and several million dollars in financial penalties, he told jurors. He’s testifying as part of a cooperation agreement with the government.

The case is U.S. v. Ghavami, 10-cr-1217, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bank of America: Laundering Nigerian Money?

June 16 2012: This past week, bailout recipients, Bank of America and Wells Fargo received a directive from the US government to close the accounts of the Nigerian embassy in Washington and its consulate in New York on suspicion of money laundering after traffic on the various accounts raised a red flag.
The decision is sequel to intelligence report generated by a panel comprising representatives of the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Department of Treasury, unknown to Nigerian embassy officials, to monitor wires and traffic in all the accounts operated by the embassy.
The move, according to sources, is setting the stage for a potential showdown between the two countries with Nigeria also threatening to reciprocate by freezing the US embassy's accounts in the country.
The online media stated that about $3.6 million dollars was said to have entered and left the accounts in under a month, the latest transaction being the withdrawal of $50,000 in hard cash by a top embassy staff.
In rejecting the federal government's request, a source in the State Department was quoted as saying, "The Nigerian embassy was unable to respond to requests for clarification about payments and transactions into the account and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accounts are being used as channels for money laundering and other financial crimes."
The source, who said the move was not targeted at the country's embassy alone, told the online news blog that the embassies of two other unnamed African countries were affected by the freeze.
Also, an unnamed federal government official in the foreign affairs ministry was quoted to have stated, "We must not accept the illegal decision to shut down legitimate embassy accounts simply because we are in America."
Since the freezing of the bank accounts, the Nigerian embassy has been grounded as it can no longer conduct regular embassy business, such as paying bills and the salaries of diplomats.
As part of efforts to resolve the issue, the auditor-general of the federation and a team of auditors left for the US to begin auditing the accounts of the embassy.
Efforts by embassy officials to open new bank accounts with other American banks have so far been politely turned down, prompting consideration of reciprocal measures such as closing the bank accounts of the U.S embassy in Nigeria.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bank of America: Refusing to Help Defrauded Veteran

Just another reason to BOYCOTT the BAILED OUT Bank of America…look at how they treated a soldier…

John McDevitt, a U.S. Army reservist from Clayville, N.Y., said Bank of America and Visa have not helped him re-coup $25,243.71 in fraudulent charges accrued on his debit card almost two years ago while he was on leave from service.
McDevitt, 52, of Clayville, N.Y., was not aware of these differences while served in Afghanistan for a year. He spent his two free weeks in Greece in November 2010 according to a policy afforded to soldiers deployed in a combat zone.
"My kids are grown," he said of his children ages 29 and 27. "I'm in my 50s. I always wanted to go to Athens, Greece because I'm a big history buff."
While in Athens and by himself, McDevitt said he asked a taxi driver to take him to a nightclub without a specific destination.
"I told the taxi driver I want to go to a night club – not a strip club," he said.
He said the driver brought him to a club at around 10 p.m. but he "didn't like the environment." He said he ordered two beers.
"I'm not really a drinker. I'm just a beer drinker," he said.
He said he was at a club called Palia Plaka for about an hour and a half.
McDevitt said he only talked to the waiter while he sat at a small table, though "a couple girls tried to come over."
"I already know what that's about," he told ABC News. "I said, 'Nope.'"
When he tried to pay with his Bank of America debit card and leave the club, he said workers claimed he owed them more money. Instead of arguing with them, he said he paid the inflated sum of 600 euros, signed a receipt for his drinks and left.
"I'm in Athens, Greece. I don't want to go to jail," he said. "You sign, you leave. You just want to get out of there."
Two weeks later at his base in Afghanistan, he said he checked his account online and saw six charges totaling $25,243.71. The charges were between $2,058.66 and $6,780.66 for Nov. 12, Nov. 19 and Nov. 22, 2010.
Outraged over the charges he said Bank of America should refund him, McDevitt protested outside a branch in Utica, N.Y. last week, holding a sign that read, "A soldier that puts America first should have a bank that puts the soldier first,"as reported by WKTV.
On Nov. 29, 2010, McDevitt notified Bank of America, which issued a temporary credit to his account for the full amount on Dec. 3, 2010, while the fraud claim was being reported. But the bank took back the funds after determining that "no error had occurred in this instance" as stated in a letter sent Dec. 9. 2010 from the bank.
McDevitt said his only option was to use a debit card because he has been unable to obtain a credit card after his ex-wife filed for bankruptcy.
"I paid off all my credit, but I still can't get a credit card," he said. Now an auditor with New York State, he also wanted to use his money to help pay for his daughter's wedding in June.
"Right now, my parents are helping me out because they know my situation," he said. "I tried to get a loan but because of my past credit, that's denied."
In a letter responding to McDevitt’s concerns, the bank said that on Dec. 9, 2010, it "received the signed sales drafts from the merchant reflecting your signature and card imprint."
"We found that the transaction activity in question was authorized and posted, or billed, correctly to your account," the letter stated.
The bank also stated that it attempted a "chargeback" against the merchant but on Feb. 23, 2011, "the merchant represented the transactions stating that they were valid, based on the sales drafts already provided."
The bank also wrote in that letter, "due to your initial interaction with the merchant, this case is considered a non-fraud claim. Furthermor, you were unable to provide copies of the receipts for the initial transactions that you said you authorized."
McDevitt said the signatures on the receipts are not his and there is no record of the receipt he actually signed.
A spokesman for Bank of America, said the bank cannot discuss McDevitt's account, citing customer privacy concerns.
"With any fraud claim, there is a very thorough review process we go through to verify its authenticity," he said.
When asked whether a customer's proof that a signature does not match his is evidence of a lack of authenticity, Crawford said "every instance is unique."
"These are handled on a case-by-case basis," Crawford said.
In a letter dated May 13, 2011, the bank said "Our attempts to resolve this matter with the merchant have been unsuccessful. We have exhausted all our available options. We can only suggest that you explore other avenues of recourse to obtain a refund and/or come to a more equitable solution with the merchant."
The bank, which followed the rules of fraud protection and also took measures in "good faith," stated that Visa "advised us that they have declined our arbitration case and have decided in favor of the merchant" on May 13, 2011.
A spokesman for Visa said the company is looking into the matter before it can comment.
Consumers should be aware of differences in fraud protection for credit cards and debit cards, Beverly Harzog, credit card expert with, said. With credit cards, the maximum liability for fraudulent charges is $50. If you report the loss or theft of your card before it's used, you're not liable for anything. In most cases, the $50 is also waived
"The rules for debit cards are different," she said. Harzog said if your debit card is lost or stolen, you have to report this within two business days to limit your liability to $50. If you don't report it within two days, you can be liable for $500. But if you don't report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days of receiving the statement showing the fraudulent transfer of money, your losses can be unlimited.
"If there are unauthorized charges on your debit card statement and you haven't lost the card or it hasn't been stolen, you have to report the fraudulent charges within 60 days of the date on the statement to limit your liability," Harzog said. "You're only liable for charges after that 60-day window if you fail to report it."
McDevitt filed a claim with Bank of America within two weeks of his visit to Greece, but the bank found the charges were not fraudulent.
Harzog said she suggested that McDevitt contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"Whether or not the bureau can help him isn't clear, but I think it's a step he should take," she said. "It's been a year and a half since this started and he's going to need someone to help him get through the bureaucracy to find out if he can get his money back."
McDevitt said he has spoken to a lawyer and tried to get in contact with the merchant without success. He said he also got in touch with the New York State Attorney General's office.
"Every time I get deeper and deeper, I'm told 'no,'" he said, though he has not yet tried to get in touch with Visa.
"I was robbed of money," he said. "I just think the law should be changed, whether it's debit or credit."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bank of America: Concealing Layoff Details?

April 3, 2012: In September of 2011, the Bank of America announced plans to eliminate 30,000 jobs over the next few years, but the bank's headcount is virtually unchanged from the end of 2009.

Bank of America had 282,000 full-time employees at the end of 2011, according to the latest official tally, published in its annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month.

That is down just 2,000 from the end of 2009 and 6,000 from the end of 2010. At the end of 2008, before Bank of America closed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, the bank had 243,000 employees.

Bank of America spokesman Jerry Dubrowski stated that the headcount numbers include "30,000 or so employees we hired in 2010/11 for mortgage-related servicing activities." He reiterated the "previously stated objective of reducing 30,000 positions through attrition, layoffs and other measures."

While Bank of America 10-K filings for years going back to at least 2007 included a breakdown of employees by division, the bank dispensed with those details in its latest report, offering nothing more than the firm-wide total.

"I'm not sure what additional value that provides, particularly as we all work together versus thinking about the businesses as silos," Dubrowski pouted.

Dubrowski further took exception to the notion that Bank of America's headcount is virtually unchanged since the end of 2009, pointing out the bank had 289,000 employees at the end of the third quarter last year.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bank of America: Computer FAIL

The Bank of America got billions in bailout dollars, but they can't even construct a simple letter properly.

Take a look at this document. 

It instructs the consumer to write to the Orwellian sounding "Consumer Correspondence Unit CA6-919-01-41" but also to designate the recipient as "name." Yes, "name." Either Bank of America employees don't have names or there's something rather wrong here. Try something rather wrong first!

Small wonder the Bank of America is imploding.