Katie Barnett took a two-week vacation this summer. When she arrived back home she was in for a shock of a lifetime. Her key wouldn’t open her front door. The locks on her house had been changed. Looking inside, she was more than just stunned. The house was nearly empty! She did see a dresser in the middle of a room, turned over on its side with the legs broken off. When she walked to the back yard, she noticed the patio furniture around the pool was missing. Several Toyota engines that were stored in the garage were gone too.
Katie crawled through a window to survey her worst vacation nightmare. She called the police. The police couldn’t help or do anything other than write a report. A couple of weeks later, the police called Katie and told her the house had been foreclosed on, not burglarized.
The First National Bank of Wellston, Ohio had foreclosed on her house. The bank sold, hauled away and threw out her possessions while she had been on vacation. Her keepsakes were gone forever.
The trouble is, Katie had never heard of the bank – and never had a mortgage or loan with them. The bank had simply foreclosed on the wrong house. Her house number was 507, the bank was supposed to have foreclosed on the house across the street at 514 (both houses were clearly marked with the numbers).
Tony Thorne, the bank president said the ‘snafu’ was a malfunctioning GPS locator. He issued a statement:
“On June 18, 2013, two representatives of the First National Bank of Wellston were assigned to clean and refurbish a bank-owned residential property. Regrettably, the GPS locator they used to find the property led them to the wrong home, which was located on the same street as the target property (we have since retraced their route using the same GPS, and it again took us to the same wrong location). As we discovered later, the property to which they were directed actually belonged to another individual.”
The bank said the employees had no reason to doubt they were at the right location, and discarded what they thought to be abandoned items (Katie’s possessions). “Unfortunately, we did not discover our error until the clean-up process was nearly complete.”
The bank also said they’d compensate Katie “fairly and equitable for her inconvenience and loss”. The bank said they acted in ‘good faith’, the lawn was overgrown and the utilities were off (which usually happens when you’re away on vacation).
Katie presented them with a bill for $18,000. The bank demanded receipts for all her repossessed items. Katie replied she didn’t have receipts for everything, and most importantly – those receipts would have been with all the possessions that had been hauled off, sold and trashed.
Katie said the bank (Thorne) got very firm with her. “We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is” the bank said.
It’s incredible the bank would balk at the $18,000. They were in the wrong. Not to mention Thorne’s statement that the bank realized the error before they ‘cleaned out everything’. Why didn’t the bank contact Katie and tell her they had erred? Left a notice on the door? Katie found out what really happened from the police, weeks later.
In subsequent experiments using GPS locators, the correct house was always correctly identified. GPS clearly said ‘house on left’, not ‘house on right’.
Katie is angry, and who wouldn’t be? She said “They’re sarcastic when they talk to me. They make it sound like I’m trying to rip the bank off.”
Bank president Thorne says there’s a discrepancy in the items Katie claims the bank took.
Discrepancy? They broke into her home and robbed her!
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Foreclosing on the wrong home, and wrongfully foreclosing on a home is a very frequent event.
Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a Colorado consumer advocate attorney, foreclosure defense and real
estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes: foreclosure prevention, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure
defense legal assistance. He also handles bankruptcies, wrongful credit reporting, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, debt defense, debt harassment, contracts and landlord/tenant.
If you think you will be facing debt collection, foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.