Nowhere in recent American history has greed reared its ugly head more than it has done in the scandalous way in which homeowners have been abused in the so-called housing catastrophe.

First, unconscionable mortgage brokers, bankers and others involved in the industry suckered perhaps hundreds of thousands of homeowners into buying homes that they could not afford or refinance homes for much larger mortgages than they could pay.

Those shysters made, collectively, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in commission and fees.

Then, when the other shoe fell and the “bubble” burst, another set of unconscionable shysters began to make millions of dollars in foreclosure proceedings as vast numbers of Americans began to lose their homes because, naturally, they could not keep up with mortgage payments.

The sharp economic downturn and the loss of millions of jobs that it has created is another factor forcing many Americans to surrender their homes to the mortgage-holder.

Besides rather token efforts by those institutions to try to help homeowners, and half-hearted moves by Congress to keep Americans in their homes, the only people who have been paying close attention to the post-bubble housing era seem to have been the economists.

For them, the collapse of the housing market has translated not into millions of families losing their homes but a dead weight on an economy struggling to recover. Now another concern has arisen and, again, it is not over the plight of people. Rather, it is how the supposed economic recovery is being further pushed back.

This time, it is the lending institutions seizing the homes of Americans who have defaulted on their mortgages that are the focus.

Widespread reports across the nation over the past few weeks have pointed to so many problems in how the lending institutions and the companies they hire for the foreclosure proceedings that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have opened investigations into how they have been going about the business of putting people out of their homes.

As a result of the probe, the major lenders have suspended their foreclosure proceedings – which is what economists are saying will hamper the economic recovery.

It is a downright shame that it is only now that this investigation is starting. Judging from the reports, it is becoming clear that a vast number of Americans may have been ousted from their homes, their American Dream turning into a nightmare, when that did not have to happen.

It was already a sorry indictment of a system that could not find a formula to keep people in their homes during such a major economic downturn. It is worse that the system has apparently been manipulated, once again, just to make the rich richer.