Aug 26

By Sasha Goldstein – New York Daily News

A suburban St. Louis police officer who threatened to kill media members as he pointed his high-powered rifle at a group of people filming Tuesday night’s protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been suspended after video of the incident went viral Wednesday.

The St. Ann, Mo. police officer, who told one man his name was “go f— yourself,” has been “relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely” for his “inappropriate” actions, the St. Louis County Police Department said in a statement to Mashable.

The officer was later identified as Lt. Ray Albers, a 20-year veteran of the force, St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez told the St. Lous Post-Dispatch.

In the minute-long video clip, the portly, bald police officer is seen pointing his semi-automatic assault rifle at crowds of people walking along a Ferguson street just before midnight Tuesday.

“My hands are up bro, my hands are up,” the reporter, who was using the screen name “Rebelutionary_Z” to livestream the protests, is heard saying.

“Get the f— away from, get the f— away from me,” Albers replies as he wheels around, all the while keeping his high-powered rifle at shoulder level. “I will f—ing kill you, get back!” he screams as he approaches the group, forcing them back onto a sidewalk.

The stunned reporters can barely believe what just happened.

“You’re gonna kill him?” the incredulous photojournalist says as the officer continues to walk. “What’s your name sir?”

“Go f— yourself,” Albers fires back as he keeps moving down the road, his gun still raised. [read more]

Aug 25

By Brad Hoppmann – Uncommon Wisdom

Banks literally have a license to print money. Bank of America (BAC) needs to run the presses even faster after yesterday’s record setting $16.7 billion mortgage securities settlement.

Stockholders and analysts reacted by bidding BAC shares higher. Their logic: the bank finally has the mess behind it.

Are they right? Probably not, and today I’ll tell you why.

We all know — some of us painfully — that the 2007-2009 financial crisis wreaked havoc on stockholders, bondholders, homeowners, regular workers and the entire economy. We are still cleaning up the mess years later.

In September 2013, I wrote about JPMorgan’s $17.3 Billion ‘Cost of Doing Business.’ Back then, JPM had just concluded a settlement similar to the one BAC agreed to this week. CEO Jamie Dimon was unfazed and kept his job.

One would think that bankers might improve their practices after this experience …

Yet, I showed you back in April how Bank of America’s own accountants simply lost track of $2.7 billion. Again, executives yawned and shareholders did not revolt.

In fact, the latest multi-billion dollar settlement does NOT settle Bank of America’s mess. It is only a small part of a much larger mess. [read more]

Aug 25

By Jessica Silver-Greenburg and Michael Corkery - The New York Times

The cycle is a familiar one on Wall Street. First comes a lending boom. And then, after the abuses and excesses of a bubble, there is the government crackdown.

Now, as federal prosecutors and regulators wrap up many of their largest mortgage investigations, they are shifting their focus to another lending boom underway: the market for auto loans to people with shoddy credit.

On Wednesday, the investigations — several are already in the works, people with knowledge of the matter say — fixed on an auto lender in Texas, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused of tarnishing borrowers’ credit reports.

The lender, First Investors Financial Services Group, agreed to pay a $2.75 million penalty over accusations that it consistently gave giant credit reporting agencies like Experian and Equifax flawed reports about thousands of car buyers. The reports, the agency said, exaggerated the number of times that borrowers fell behind on their bills, a mistake that could jeopardize their ability to find housing or even get jobs.

First Investors, which is owned by a prominent New York private equity firm, did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

“First Investors showed careless disregard for its customers’ financial lives by knowingly distorting their credit profiles for years,” Richard Cordray, the director of the consumer protection bureau, said on Wednesday.

The action comes as regulators and prosecutors worry that some of the same lending abuses that plagued the mortgage market in the run-up to the financial crisis — and signs that some borrowers’ loan applications included false information about income and employment — are showing up in the subprime auto market, the people familiar with the matter said.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, has begun a separate investigation into whether lenders have sold questionable auto-loan investments to investors. The investigation, which has sent subpoenas to General Motors Financial and Santander Consumer USA, two giant auto lenders, is focused on whether the lenders fully disclosed to investors the creditworthiness of borrowers whose loans made up the complicated securities.

Adding to the scrutiny, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is examining a number of potential abuses in the subprime auto loan market, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. [read more]

Aug 25

By Kelli B. Grant – CNBC

Surprisingly, more than a third of Americans have a debt in collections, whether a $40 parking fine or a $40,000 auto loan. That rate is even higher in these states.

Debt gone bad

Are you a delinquent debtor?

About 5 percent of consumers with credit files are past-due on an account and another 35.1 percent have a debt in collections, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. The report is based on 2013 data from credit bureau TransUnion.

How much these consumers owe varies, with some on the hook for less than $25 and others, more than $125,000. The average: $5,178. [read more]

Aug 22

By Patrick Lunsford – insideARM

A man who once ran what seemed to be a legitimate debt collection operation before resorting to overtly criminal behavior was sentenced Wednesday to 175 months in federal prison for stealing client money, identity theft, and a ton of other federal financial fraud crimes.

In late 2012, Khemall Jokhoo was charged with 11 counts of bank fraud, nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of false impersonation of an officer or employee of the United States. A jury found him guilty of the charges in November 2013.

Jokhoo executed a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from individuals and financial institutions using personal information he obtained through his debt collection agency.

From February 2002 until June 30, 2009, Jokhoo was legally registered as a debt collector with the State of Minnesota as the founder, owner, and sole employee of First Financial Services, Inc., which also held a Minnesota collection agency license until November 3, 2009, when it was revoked by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. [read more]

Aug 22

By Rachel Witkowski – National Mortgage News

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a bulletin Tuesday warning mortgage servicers of potential repercussions if consumers are harmed when servicing rights change hands.

The bulletin cautions servicers that CFPB examiners will be on the lookout for cases where borrowers get the “runaround” after servicing rights transfer from one company to another, particularly for borrowers awaiting a trial modification or other loss mitigation steps. The bureau said servicers that handle bigger transfers should be prepared to explain their plans to examiners for complying with the bureau’s recent servicing rule, both before and after the transfer occurs. The agency warned that servicers not complying with legal measures could be subject to enforcement action.

“Servicers engaged in significant servicing transfers should expect that the CFPB will, in appropriate cases, require them to prepare and submit informational plans describing how they will be managing the related risks to consumers,” the bulletin said. “The CFPB is continuing to monitor the mortgage servicing market and may engage in further rulemaking in this area.”

The CFPB’s new mortgage servicing rules that went into effect in January were meant to ensure, among other things, that companies transferring servicing rights keep accurate records on borrowers and transfers do not result in interruptions for consumers awaiting modifications. However, CFPB officials have remained concerned about the potential for error with mortgage servicing transfers that involve massive amounts of loans. Some consumers have struggled to get workouts after their loans could not be tracked. [read more]