David Adier missed two mortgage payments on his home in Morris Township, NJ, so Wells Fargo, his mortgage lender, sent contractors who illegally broke in and "trashed-out" his home as though it was abandoned, stealing the family treasures his father smuggled out of Nazi-occupied France.
The family had lived in the home for 40 years. Wells Fargo's contractors deemed the house "abandoned" so they broke in and stole everything of value down to the brass door-knocker, turning the house upside-down in the process, leaving it look like a tornado hit it. The house has still not been foreclosed upon.
Banks routinely send contractors — day laborers — to ransack their customers' houses, often getting it wrong — sometimes getting the wrong house, something deeming houses abandoned when they are not, sometimes claiming payments were missed when they weren't. They rarely, if ever, face consequences for this. The practice began after the subprime meltdown and has continued ever since, being just as prevalent today as it was at the height of the bust.
Homeowners have been complaining for years about coming home to find that their keys no longer work. Contractors took the remains of Mimi Ash's late husband. They took Angela Iannelli's pet parrot, Luke. They took the American flag off a house belonging to Rick and Sherry Rought, who had bought it entirely in cash from Deutsche Bank after the bank had foreclosed on its previous owners. Nilly Mauck's condo was trashed because contractors mixed up the number of the property they were supposed to inspect. Nancy Jacobini's home was broken into while she sat on her couch; she locked herself in the bathroom and called 911. A year later, the same contractor broke in again.
"I've got this client, they are away from their home," said Matt Weidner, a foreclosure defense attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida. "They come home to find a dude in there hacking their goddamn house apart. There's a hammer sitting in the wall, like they said fuck it, we're done for the day, we'll just shove this in here." The partially demolished home has sat that way for three years, amid litigation.
When the Bank Robs You: Suit Alleges Wells Fargo Contractors Stole Family Heirlooms Rescued From Nazis [David Dayen/The Intercept]