Big Bear City man set to take on mortgage lender
By Arrissia Owen Turner
David Graham may lose his house over $7,000. The Big Bear City resident never paid a mortgage payment late. Graham is fighting back. Graham is taking on Goliath: Bank of America.
With the help of Big Bear Lake’s Alan Sims, the man behind Center for Litigation and Consumer Real Estate Education, Graham is taking BofA to small claims court on Dec. 3.
Graham is suing for fraud because he now knows he did not qualify for the loan modification from the start based on the Home Affordable Modification Program guidelines. HAMP is the Obama administration’s program intended to help homeowners struggling with mortgage payments.
Sims is an expert witness in forensic appraising and mortgage fraud. He successfully helped plaintiffs sue fraudulent loan modification companies, but now Sims is setting his sights on the big banks. “A new problem has lifted its head, the administration of the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program,” Sims says.
Since filing suit, BofA contacted Graham with another chance at a loan modification, despite his income not meeting the minimum requirements. “It’s overwhelming,” he says. “I would love to deal with them and get this cleared up—but I don’t want to deal with them.” Losing a home is an emotional issue, he says.
In March 2009, BofA contacted Graham soliciting a loan modification because, the representative said, his loan fell into a special category and his household income changed. Graham then dealt with BAC, a branch of BofA, which took over the loan.
Graham sent all the required financial information and started making forbearance payments, a lower amount. He was told he was on a three-month probationary period.
Three months later, Fed Ex delivered a package to his front door requesting documents Graham already sent. “They said they didn’t have it,” Graham says with exasperation in his voice knowing he sent all documents. Then the representative he spoke to said that because the documents were missing, it would be another three months.
Meanwhile, Graham continued to struggle to keep up with his mortgage and credit card payments. He paid at least the minimum on time every month, he says. But soon he began receiving notices that his credit limits were reduced because of negative action on his credit report—BofA reported his mortgage payments as delinquent.
BofA representatives explained the money Graham sent monthly was not paid to the mortgage account, he says. Graham says he was told to continue to make the forbearance payments and things would work out in the end.
In September 2010, Graham received a letter from BofA that said he was turned down for the loan modification and that unless he paid the difference, $7,000, by Oct. 4, the bank would file a notice of default.
Disillusioned, Graham stopped making payments. Graham does not have the money, and because his credit is damaged from the loan modification he is not able to secure a loan.
Graham says he was given the runaround with documents that weren’t delivered, others that were lost and false promises. That’s why Graham decided to take BofA to court. “It’s the only power I have left,” he says.
Graham and Sims hope to start a movement, uniting the many Americans caught up in the roller coaster ride that the government is helping subsidize, they say. The maximum a plaintiff can win in small claims court is $7,500. But Graham also hopes the judge will order BofA to work to restore the damage done to his credit.
“I was misled,” Graham says. “They made me believe they could help me. … I didn’t do anything wrong. I was on the fence and they pushed it. It’s unjust.”
By telling his story and standing up to BofA, Graham wants to inspire others to do the same. “We need to band together and step up,” he says. “I am going to lose my house. I’ve accepted that. But I hope I can help someone else save theirs and a lot of heartache.”
For more information about Center for Litigation and Consumer Real Estate Education, visit http://www.clecree.org”>www.clecree.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.