lucius_gantt_1.jpgThe settlement made a year ago with many of America’s biggest banks was supposed to address claims of foreclosure abuses. Citizens were bamboozled into thinking the settlement deal would allow millions of borrowers to escape the threat of losing their homes.

Today, don’t worry about ripped off bank customers. Magicians Harry Houdini and Chris Angel couldn’t escape the foreclosure traps seemingly set by the bankers.

This is the trick: In the fake deal, banks were to grant $25 billion worth of mortgage relief by reducing the principal balances on troubled loans but, in many cases, banks are not helping with troubled primary mortgages. Bankers instead forgave only second mortgages and perhaps home equity loans, which suggested to government regulators that the banks had met their obligations under what seems to me to be a phony settlement.

The bankers appear to be only tidying up their balance sheets. They are doing little or nothing to keep people from losing their homes.

Many African Americans are running away from banks and running to title loan companies and payday lenders. Many states have banned many title and payday loan companies from operating in their geographical confines so the sometimes financial crooks set up online operations in more hospitable states and in foreign countries like Belize and Malta.

So, what does this have to do with the banks? Well, banks get paid by payday and title loan folks to allow them to deduct and withdraw loan payments directly from borrowers’ bank accounts even in states where the loans are banned entirely by state governments.

If the bankers didn’t help financial thieves in processing and sending electronic funds, the payday and title lenders couldn’t operate.

You tell me: If the states cap interest rates on payday loans at 25 percent, how can the banks skirt state laws and allow online lenders to charge customers much higher interest rates?

Lenders should be required to honor lending laws in the state where each borrower resides and be prohibited from charging any amount of interest the bankers want to charge.

Even though federal law allows bank customers to stop authorized withdrawals from their accounts, many say the banks do not heed requests to stop the online loan processing.

One more way banks are robbing customers, I think, is their arbitrary and malicious implementation of “fees.”
If you agree in refinancing to pay a specific amount, banks will charge you more and say the increased charges are “fees” — that you didn’t agree to.

When you don’t pay the arbitrary imposed fees, the banks will start charging you interest on these mysterious fees that you never agreed to pay and add those increased costs to your mortgage balances.

Finally, how can banks do all of these things if they don’t even hold the original mortgage notes and other transaction documents? They can do it because they are allowed to do it by state and federal banking regulators.

Yes, one year after government and banks announced a foreclosure settlement and banks found ways to circumvent the settlement, America’s banks are still stealing from us.

*Pictured above is Lucius Gantt, a political consultant based in Tallahassee, is author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing. For information on how to buy the book or to contact him, visit