On paper, America's bailed-out banks learned their lessons from the crash of 2008 and got rid of their exposure to subprime debt, especially "deep subprime" loans to people who are so broke that it's basically impossible that they'll ever pay their loans back.
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There are Advent calendars and then there is the Banks's Brewery's Advent calendar.
Launched on December 1, the UK beer brand's countdown to Christmas stands over 36 feet tall because it's spray painted on the boarded-up windows of a deserted building in the English city of Wolverhampton.
Their bluntly-stated calendar is part of a larger campaign called "Tells it like it is" and its gritty commentary is meant to appeal to a young, working class audience.
Big Al’s Creative Emporium, the London-based creative agency behind it all, explains:
How do you reassert an identity for a traditional pint of Black Country bitter on a shoestring? Paint it on the walls. That’s how.
Banks’ was a traditional West Midland’s beer in decline, feeling a bit dated and with an ageing core of traditional drinkers. Despite an extremely limited marketing budget, we wanted to give the brand new lease of life by appropriating the straight talking wit and grit of its industrial Black Country roots.
Our solution was to develop a graffiti campaign around the thought ‘Tells it like it is’ and getting our messages on to unconventional urban spaces to create a subversive ambient campaign, which in turn we were able to activate as social media campaign taking on a life of its own.
Here's a peek at some of those messages:
See the rest over at Ads of the World.
Previously: There's an advent calendar full of weed Read the rest
A lawsuit against JP Morgan-Chase -- the nation's largest bank -- asserts that the institution paid off the $4,200,000,000 in mortgage forgiveness that it agreed to as a settlement for widescale mortgage and foreclosure fraud by committing a lot more mortgage fraud, in which homeowners, ethical lenders, and American cities were stuck with the bill. Read the rest
Yesterday in Corpus Christi, Texas a contractor was changing a lock inside an ATM room when he got locked inside without his phone. So he wrote "help me" notes that he slipped through the working ATM receipt slot until someone took him seriously and called the cops. From KRISTV.com:
"We come out here, and sure enough we can hear a little voice coming from the machine. So we are thinking this is a joke. It's got to be a joke," (police officer Richard) Olden said.
It turns out it was true, and the employee said afterward he got stuck changing out an electronic lock. Later the contractor supervisor arrived, and police had to kick down a door to get the gentlemen out of the ATM room.
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When Thomas Piketty and his team undertook their landmark study of wealth inequality in the world, they had to rely on the self-reported income of the super rich to see just how income was distributed -- by definition, they couldn't directly measure the unreported income hidden in tax havens (though they did estimate it, with what was eventually shown to be pretty good precision). Read the rest
I love Alex Schaefer impasto works depicting branches of Chase bank going up in flames in daytime. They were from a series by him called "Disaster Capitalism," and apparently the banks (and cops) would pretend he was planning acts of arson to try and make him stop painting. [via mutantspace, via Janie]
On July 30, 2011, Alex Schaefer set up an easel across the road from a Chase bank and began painting the building in flames. However, before he had finished the police arrived, asked him for his information and if he was planning on actually carrying out an arson attack on the building. Ridiculous. Later they turned up on his doorstep asking about his artwork and looking for any signs that he was going to carry through an anarcho – terrorist plot based on his paintings. If this wasn’t bad enough a year later he was arrested for drawing the word ‘crime’ with a Chase logo in front of an LA bank.
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U.K. and U.S. authorities fined Deutsche Bank of Germany $629 million for helping crooked Russian plutocrats move $10 billion out of Russia.
From April 2012 to October 2014, mirror trades were used by Deutsche Bank customers to transfer more than $6 billion from Russia, through the German lender’s arm in the U.K., to overseas bank accounts including in Cyprus, Estonia, and Latvia, the FCA said. Another nearly $4 billion in suspicious "one-sided trades" were also carried out.
The mirror trades allowed clients to buy local blue-chip shares for rubles, while the same stocks would be sold in London for dollars, in order to obtain the U.S. currency. Although such trades can be legal, there was a lack of controls in place at Deutsche Bank to prevent money laundering and other offenses.
A couple of weeks ago Western Union was fined $586 million for colluding with organized crime. The CEOs of both companies kept their jobs.
By Christoph F. Siekermann - Fotografiert am 17. September 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest
Five years ago, a fisherman in Deyang, China, buried his entire life savings. The amount he buried totaled about US$5,500. When Wu Chen, 67, and his family recently dug it up, they discovered that the plastic bag the bills were in had deteriorated. Worms and insects had eaten through much of his cash. Read the rest
Back in 2009, SF author Peter Watts had dinner with a retired investment banker from TD who described the bank's "vulnerability index" -- a numeric score that expresses how desperate you are for your paycheck and thus the extent to which you can be reliably expected to forego your dignity and principles to keep your check intact. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
Visa's new Paywave chip-and-PIN credit-cards have a $1M limit on foreign-currency transactions that can be verified "in-card," meaning that someone who gets close enough to your UK wallet can simply wave a phone at it and charge a megabuck to it without raising any realtime security alerts. Read the rest
Here's a sad profile of William Footman, an inmate at Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward who is believed to be behind at least 37 robberies in which the doormats were stolen from banks. Footman admits to some of these, but says that the rest weren't him; he claims to have worked at a rug factory, to have a wife and 15 daughters, and to have made ends meet by selling stolen bank doormats to bodegas. But there's a clear impression that he's a fabulist, possibly delusional, and that he's really in a bad place, despite the weirdness of his crimes. Read the rest
Back in 2012, the major US banks settled a federal mortgage-fraud lawsuit for $95,000,000. The suit was filed by Lynn Szymoniak, a white-collar fraud specialist, whose own house had been fraudulently foreclosed-upon. When the feds settled with the banks, the evidence detailing the scope of their fraud was sealed, but as of last week, those docs are unsealed, and Szymoniak is shouting them from the hills. The banks precipitated the subprime crash by "securitizing" mortgages -- turning mortgages into bonds that could be sold to people looking for investment income -- and the securitization process involved transferring title for homes several times over. This title-transfer has a formal legal procedure, and in the absence of that procedure, no sale had taken place. See where this is going?
The banks screwed up the title transfers. A lot. They sold bonds backed by houses they didn't own. When it came time to foreclose on those homes, they realized that they didn't actually own them, and so they committed felony after felony, forging the necessary documentation. They stole houses, by the neighborhood-load, and got away with it. The $1B settlement sounded like a big deal, back when the evidence was sealed. Now that Szymoniak's gotten it into the public eye, it's clear that $1B was a tiny slap on the wrist: the banks stole trillions of dollars' worth of houses from you and people like you, paid less than one percent in fines, and got to keep the homes. Read the rest
Artist Ilona Gaynor produced a piece called "Under Black Carpets" that took the form of detailed plans for robbing five banks near LA's One Wilshire building, simultaneously. Gaynor worked with the LAPD and the FBI to produce a collection of fictional forensic evidence from these robberies, which were then exhibited. Now, Gaynor's trying to raise £20,000 to take the exhibit to tour the show. £30 gets you a cool-looking book, and £40 gets you the book and a tee.
WAIT, ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO ROB THESE BANKS?
No. This is strictly a design / art project.
The exhibition of the work will be presented to the audience as a police investigation, detailing the remaining evidential material after the event has taken place, something that could be argued or challenged as material (evidence) in a court of law. The work itself will take form as sculptures, architectural models, technical drawings, films and photography. It will open as a solo exhibition (Special Project) at the Lisbon Architecture Triennale opening from Sep 12th - Dec 15th 2013.
Under Black Carpets, kickstart a bank heist.
(via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest
The US District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has indicted eight residents of Yonkers for allegedly participating in a global ATM heist that involved removing the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards, cloning them, and then getting confederates all over the world to hit ATMs at the same time and clean them out. The DA says that the scam netted $45M worldwide; $400K in NYC alone. One of the indicted defendants was murdered in the Dominican Republic last month.
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The first heist, which occurred on December 22 and targeted debit cards issued by the UAE bank, dispatched carders in about 20 countries that rapidly withdrew funds in more than 4,500 ATM transactions. In New York City alone, prosecutors said, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew almost $400,000 in some 750 fraudulent transactions from more than 140 different ATM locations. It took just two hours and 25 minutes for the New York cell to complete, prosecutors said. A second operation commenced on February 19 withdrew about $40 million in 36,000 transactions worldwide. In just 10 hours, the New York group allegedly withdrew about $2.4 million in almost 3,000 ATM transactions.
The operation exploited weaknesses in the way banks and payment processors handle prepaid debit cards, which usually are loaded with a finite amount of funds. These cards are often used by employers in place of paychecks and by charitable organizations to distribute disaster assistance. Once the accounts were hacked and the limits removed from accounts, cards were cloned and sent to cell groups throughout the world to make fraudulent withdrawals.
A young man left $4.85 in his TCF Bank account. TCF assessed him a $9.95 "maintenance fee" for not having enough money in his account. Then they charged him for being overdrawn by $5.10 (ten cents more than he was allowed by their rules). In less than two weeks, they'd assessed so many fees and penalties against the account holder that he owed them $229.10. All for having the temerity to have a low-balance account. The bank said it was his own fault for not having more money. Finally, they relented -- only after being contacted by a newspaper.
"I try to raise my children the right way and if my son would have overdrawn this account because of spending money he didn't have we would have made him take care of it," she said. "But what TCF did is not right. Money is tight right now and if this is their way of making money, they need to be stopped."
Ganziano said the entire goal of setting up the account was to teach her sons how to be smart with their money.
"When they get zapped this way, why would they trust a bank?" she said.
Bank fees that overdraw teen's account have mom seeing red Read the rest
An award-winning Chase vice-president has gone public with accusations that his bank deliberately tricked naive borrowers into taking out high-commission loans they could never pay back (his team wrote $2B in loans during the subprime bubble), putting the lie to the narrative that subprime was about greedy borrowers taking money they knew they shouldn't:
One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.
These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.
Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.
In late 2008, when the mortgage market collapsed, Theckston and most of his colleagues were laid off. He says he bears no animus toward Chase, but he does think it is profoundly unfair that troubled banks have been rescued while troubled homeowners have been evicted.
A Banker Speaks, With Regret
(via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest