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B of A: From the inside looking out

B of A: From the inside looking out

CREATED Jul 1, 2011

Contact 13 has heard from countless homeowners who are fed up with Bank of America.

While frustrations and foreclosures mount, people are struggling to keep their homes and wondering why the bank won't help.

For the first time, Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears gets insight and answers from someone who worked on the inside.

Darcy Spears: "Can you keep going through this?"

Sue Lucero: "No, I can't do it no more. I'm done. I can't do it no more."

Sue Lucero is losing her home after battling Bank of America for more than a year.

"They are literally impossible."

We'll get to her story in a minute.

But first, we'd like you to meet someone who's seen hundreds of people who've walked in Sue's shoes.

"They were either very mad and wanted someone to yell at and someone to belittle or just crying, out of options and it's hard to do that person after person, hour after hour, day after day."

James, who asked us not to use his last name, worked as a negotiator for Bank of America.

He helped open B of A's first customer assistance center in Southern Nevada.

Darcy Spears: "What did they tell you about why they were opening this center and why they were hiring you?"

James: "From the very, very beginning it was told not because it was the right thing to do, but because it was political pressure."

Pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who told Contact 13 last May, "This great big bank who holds more of our loans in Nevada than any other bank has been, I repeat, a terrible disappointment and worse. We've tried everything that we can."

Including asking them to set up homeowner resource centers, which James says didn't meet his or the homeowners expectations.

"We weren't making decisions. We weren't really even able to review information regarding loans that were already in process."

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who's suing B of A, says the bank's misconduct was confirmed by other former employees who spoke to her investigators.

They called the modification process "chaotic, understaffed and not oriented to customers."

"And to be basically put in the hardest hit state in the nation and the hardest hit area... it's kind of like putting a police officer in a bad city and not giving him any weapons," James says.

What's just as bad, he believes, is how misleading the trial modification process is because of what the bank doesn't tell you.

"You're gonna get subject to a late charge. So now you're not only behind, it's snowballing because you're getting these late fees and number two we're gonna report you to the credit bureau. And number three, you probably won't get the modification anyway."

B of A tells us they completed 7,700 mortgage modifications for Nevadans last year.

But they can't tell us how that compares to the overall number of people seeking help in our state.

As for James' concerns, Nevada's Attorney General echoes them in their lawsuit saying B of A makes "false promises" and is "deceptive and misleading" with customers seeking mortgage modifications.

James resigned after only a few months at the Henderson center.

B of A wouldn't go on camera because of the A.G.'s lawsuit.

But they did send this written statement, saying, "We appreciate James' brief service to the company, but his experiences reflect processes and programs that have since dramatically improved as evidenced by the momentum Bank of America continues to demonstrate in assisting distressed customers."

That brings us back to the beginning of our story and distressed customer Sue Lucero.

Darcy Spears: "How has it been to deal with them?"

Sue Lucero: "Awful. It's awful. They were given the money from the government to help people like us and they're not doing a thing."

After her husband was laid off and her income was drastically reduced, they starting seeking help.

B of A offered a trial modification which literally came out to $49.09 less per month.

Darcy Spears: "Did you feel like you just wanted to laugh in their face for even making that offer?"

Sue Lucero: "I did."

And she declined it.

Then, a Fed Ex package came the night before Christmas Eve.

"And instead of reducing my payment, they increased my payment by $200-and-some dollars and added principle to my loan," Sue says in disbelief.

She's done looking for other options and is getting ready for a short sale.

"They took my home. They took my spirit. And to this day I don't have my spirit back because you don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. And it's scary," Sue says, fighting tears.

"They need to provide more and they need to do more for their customers," James says. "Why they haven't I don't know."

B of A apologizes to customers like the Luceros who "have not experienced the level of service they have come to expect from Bank of America."

The bank claims they're continuing to dedicate "unprecedented resources to improve that experience."

We'll be watching and waiting to see that improvement.

After Contact 13 got involved, B of A reopened the Luceros' case to see if they can find a financial solution that would let them keep their home.