The US District Court judge for the District of Columbia signed off, finally, on the big $25 billion foreclosure settlement between five banks, the federal government, and most of the states. On Wednesday, Judge Rosemary Collyer approved the settlement, which was announced two months ago. The $25 billion settlement will be divvied up by the states and is suggested to be used to ease financial burden on improperly foreclosed homes and help pursue negligence in the future. However, as I’ve mentioned before, some states are going to use it for whatever they feel like. Georgia in particular is using the money to support local infrastructure, presumably telling the federal government “you can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my real dad”, slamming its door and hiding under the covers afterwards.
As of today, the settlement is “final and non-appealable”, since no one issued a challenge to it yesterday. Nothing in the judgment can be used as evidence against the banks in the future, meaning that once this money is paid out, it’s like it never happened in the eyes of the law. I imagine the head honchos of the banks are sitting back in their leather board room chairs, issuing hearty guffaws and pats upon their henchmens’ backs amid clouds of expensive cigar smoke, saying “we got off easy on that one, boys!” before going back to their dungeons to figure out how next to swindle money from the American public.
So it goes. But with this settlement comes a new challenge: small-time hustlers working to trick homeowners into thinking they need to pay money to get benefits from the foreclosure settlement. According to many attorneys general, con artists will use the settlement as a means to pull identity theft schemes or other financial scams. Homeowners may receive a fraudulent letter about the settlement, announcing that their funds are ready to be withdrawn, but they just need to send a little bit of money to make the whole sum available. This, along with any scheme that requires a down payment to make money, is a scam.
Finally: watch this illuminating 60 Minutes segment from a year ago if you want to fully understand what happened in the first place.