Monday, 25 August 2014

Notorious Difficulties

Democratic socialist and one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century, Eric Arthur Blair (otherwise known as George Orwell), once said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -forever” and, as a result of this week’s disappointing developments, it’s hard not to imagine the human face being stamped on is destined to be mine.

In March 2006, having discussed our financial circumstances with a financial advisor/mortgage broker, my husband was told we could reduce our outgoings by more than half if we agreed to switch our existing mortgage of £725,000 to the Bank of Scotland and take a further advance of £65,000, secured against our home, to repay our credit cards. Desperate to alleviate his cash flow problems at a time when the terminal illness of two of his closest relatives was making it impossible to divide his time effectively between the needs of his family and the demands of his business, he agreed.
  • The mortgage application (which we never saw) was submitted on line by a broker we never met
  • There were no acquisition costs to pay, neither were there solicitors or surveyors to instruct as the cost of the valuation and the conveyance, along with instructions, were taken care of by the lender.
  • And, on 30 March 2006, after being told by the broker we had received a mortgage offer for £790,000 from the Bank of Scotland, we signed the declaration page and the direct debit mandate of an otherwise blank application form.
As a result, the broker earned £4,500 and we unwittingly agreed to move from a very tight corner which could have been rectified by the sale of our house, to an impossible situation amounting to tens of thousands of pounds in arrears, a £217,000 shortfall following the forced sale of our home in 2009 and six long years of battling with an unsympathetic bank while trying to establish precisely what had gone on. Had HBOS not sent me an entirely unsolicited copy of our original application form (minus the declaration pages) by way of an explanation to some wildly inaccurate claims they were making about the original purchase price and original purchase date of our house, I might never have discovered the fraudulent nature of the information it contained.

Having reported the fraud to HBOS and been advised never to contact them again, I immediately reported the matter to the FCA who were insistent it was beyond the remit of both themselves and the FOS.  Because of this I was told I should go straight to the police and, encouraged by the diligence of Action Fraud's staff to record the details of my case and the news they could present the crime as an Abuse of a Position of Trust, I looked forward to being contacted by the Serious Fraud Office of the Devon and Cornwall Police.

However, all appears not to have been as it seemed as, without even looking at any of my documentary evidence, I am now told the police will not be investigating my claim of mortgage fraud as cases of this nature are,
  • Notoriously difficult to understand
  • Notoriously difficult to take forward if the real victim, namely the bank, does not come forward
  • Notoriously difficult to prove
I am further advised, 
  • I am not the victim of the crime and have therefore experienced no loss
  • I may well be considered complicit in the fraud as I gained from the brokers actions
  • At best, a fraudulent mortgage application is a civil matter or a case for the FOS
They suggest,
  • I bring the bank's irresponsible lending to the attention of the financial ombudsman and the financial regulators.
Politician, historian, author, political consultant and 58th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich once said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you are tired of doing all the hard work you already did” yet despite the endless hard work of the past six years, this widely documented crime which was designed by the banks, implemented by unscrupulous brokers and facilitated by in house lawyers and solicitors, continues to go unpunished.

In the US the Bank of America recently agreed to pay $16.6 million in settlement for their mis-selling of mortgage backed securities in the run up to the financial crisis, but when it comes to justice for those of us who were coerced into the obtaining the unsuitable/mis-sold mortgages in the first place, there is none.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Truth and Understanding

Fourteenth century Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei once said, "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered: the point is to discover them” and although discovering the truth about my Bank of Scotland mortgage has consumed my life for the best part of six years, understanding what the truth actually adds up to has only come to light during the past week.

Since the Bank of Scotland secured a court order to repossess my home in November 2008, disposed of it at a knockdown price in April 2009 leaving me with a £217,000 shortfall and then flatly refused to consider our circumstances or discuss their breaches in best practice, I have been kept  very busy.

I have;
  • Written countless letters to the FSA, the SRA, the FOS, the ICO, the Bank of Scotland, their debt collectors and the Bank of Scotland's CEO's Eric Daniels and Antonio Horta Osorio.
  • Scoured FB, twitter and the newspapers for both information and expertise
  • Used my 180 Life after Debt blog posts to find other individuals who have suffered at the hands of HBOS and in doing so secured more expertise
  • Compiled five lever arch files of evidence and information to support my case of complaint
This week, armed with all of the above, I have finally presented my findings to the police and, as a result of three phone calls to and from Action Fraud and the hour long telephone interview I gave, I have now been told the following;
  • The crime I have reported is to be taken forward as an “Abuse of a position of trust”
  • My mortgage application, which was falsified by a third party, ticks every box for mortgage fraud
  • As a result of my report, I must contact the Bank of Scotland once again.
To this end I wrote the following;

Dear Mr *******,

Mortgage Account No. ********-*/***/***
Crime Reference No.XXXX**********

Although you expressly stated in your letter of 24 July, “Any attempt to contact the Bank Of Scotland Plc (Halifax Division) regarding the above account will result in you being referred straight back to drysdenfairfax solicitors” , I have been asked by the police to advise the Bank of Scotland of the crime reference number I have been given for the mortgage fraud  I have reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (see above) and make the bank aware that it has also been the victim of the same mortgage fraud so it can file a report with Action Fraud as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

In addition, I am reliably informed that having a crime number will encourage an altogether different reaction to the one the Bank of Scotland has seen fit to mete out to me in the past. Furthermore, my much valued FB friends and Twitter followers expertise, combined with a few legal opinions a little closer to home, suggest the unlawful repossession of an individual’s home and a comprehensive paper trail to boot is pretty solid ground from which to pursue compensation.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the twentieth century, UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, once said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is,” and, after six arduous years of searching for the truth, the Bank of Scotland boot  finally appears to be on the other foot and what's more,

The foot appears to be mine!