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As Bank Takes Possession of Home, Couple Argues, to No Avail, ‘We Paid Cash,’ Suit Says

Posted Feb 12, 2010 3:49 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As mortgage foreclosures continue to surge throughout the nation, there's at least one case that should never have been filed, a Massachusetts couple says.

It concerns their future retirement home in Florida, for which, they say, they paid their life savings, in cash. Although there was no mortgage at all on the Spring Hill house, the Bank of America apparently mistook their home for another property about 10 doors away and swooped down on it, contend Maria and Charlie Cardoso in a lawsuit they filed last month in their home state.

Learning of the situation before the worst occurred, the Cardosos protested and thought the mistake had been corrected. But their argument that the bank actually had no claim against the home fell on deaf ears, reports the St. Petersburg Times. The bank had the locks changed on the house, removed belongings they had stored there and turned off utilities, resulting in frozen pipes, the couple contends in the suit.

"Their own real estate agent told them, and nevertheless Bank of America steamrolled right ahead," attorney Joseph deMello, who is representing the Cardosos, tells the newspaper. "This is a nightmare for anyone, and it affected my hardworking clients a lot."

Asserting claims for defamation and trespass, the couple seeks unspecified damages—and wants an apology. Although it isn't yet clear if their credit was damaged as a result of the incident, the Cardosos say they lost a tenant who was frightened away by the bank's actions.

And it was embarrassing for friends to learn of the foreclosure, which seemingly put the lie to their claims of having paid cash for the house, Maria Cardoso tearfully told the Boston Channel last month.

In an e-mailed statement to the newspaper, the bank says it has "reached out to the Cardosos' representatives and hope to have the opportunity to work with them to properly assess and address their allegations." The bank will, the statement says, review the couple's allegations, "the actual events that led to them and the causes of those events, and will consider any hardship that resulted."

Meanwhile, there apparently is no shortage of legitimate mortgage foreclosure cases for the Bank of America and other lenders to pursue.

Foreclosure filings last month rose 15 percent, compared to the previous January, and tallied over 300,000 for the 11th straight month, reports Bloomberg, citing RealtyTrac Inc. statistics. Since there are still a substantial number of delinquent mortgages in the pipeline, it appears that total foreclosures this year could top 3 million, potentially setting a new record.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Mortgage-Rescue Meltdown: Calif. Probes 400 Lawyers, Fields 30 Complaints Daily"

Updated on Feb. 16 to link to subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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